The Divorce Process

Below are the steps in divorce – a basic outline of the divorce process. Please keep in mind that divorce proceedings are unique to an individual’s situation and every divorce can take a different course. Some of the steps described below may not be relevant to your case, and additional steps that are not specified may be required when getting a divorce.

The following list is intended as general information to help clarify the intricacies involved with how to file for divorce in Oregon. Divorce in Washington is very similar.

  1. Meet with a divorce attorney to discuss options, a timetable, and the laws of divorce in your state.
  2. Hire an attorney by signing a retainer agreement.
  3. Provide requested information to prepare divorce paperwork (including names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, and telephone numbers).
  4. Review papers prepared to file for a divorce or legal separation and sign.
  5. The law firm files the paperwork for the court, with a filing fee.
  6. Opposing party is served either by voluntarily accepting service in writing, or by being physically served by a process server.
  7. If children are involved, register for and complete the required parenting class within two weeks of filing for divorce. (In Washington, the two week deadline does not exist.)
  8. Opposing party files a response answer, with a filing fee.
  9. Provide discovery to opposing party (documentation, depositions).
  10. Obtain discovery from opposing party.
  11. Obtain discovery from other potential witnesses.
  12. If necessary, participate in custody / parenting time study.
  13. Determine goals and negotiating position for final settlement of case.
  14. Attempt settlement. This includes making settlement offers, participating in settlement conferences and divorce mediation, or arbitration if there are no children or spousal support involved. (In cases where a divorce settlement is reached, jump to step 18. If a settlement is not reached, go to step 15.)
  15. Prepare for trial (review issues, witness questions, goals, and trial position).
  16. Attorney files trial memorandum outlining issues and trial position.
  17. Go to trial.
  18. Attorney incorporates settlement or Judge’s ruling into a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
  19. Review draft of Judgment with attorney.
  20. Opposing party approves form of Judgment or submits written objections to form.
  21. Judge reviews and signs Judgment.
  22. Exchange personal property and assets as necessary under Judgment. After your divorce has been finalized, it may be necessary to obtain new medical insurance (for example, if you were previously covered under your spouse’s insurance). Separate auto insurance and, in some cases, life insurance will also need to be obtained.
  23. Verify that any pension or retirement accounts are properly divided, if applicable.
  24. Review and update your estate plan.