About Us
Marriage Planning FAQs
Separation FAQs
  • What is a legal separation?

    A legal separation, either temporary or for an unlimited time, may be granted when the differences between the parties have caused a temporary breakdown of the marriage. Virtually all issues that could arise in a divorce proceeding could also arise in a legal separation proceeding. In addition, the costs, fees and procedures are usually the same as in a dissolution case. Unlike a divorce, a legal separation does not terminate the marriage, and additional divorce proceedings are required if the couple decides to end the marriage.

  • If my spouse and I are separated, can I get child support?

    Yes. Child support may be requested and  awarded if you and your spouse are physically separated or as part of a Judgment of Legal Separation. However, it is not guaranteed.

Divorce FAQs
  • What can I do to prepare information before filing for divorce?

    Collect your asset and income information such as: tax returns, titles to real estate, retirement plans and accounts, non-retirement investments, savings information, pay stubs and stock options. Assemble a thorough account of your financial obligations(debts and monthly bills) as well. It is a good idea to obtain a credit report early in the process in order to thoroughly address all aspects of a settlement. In addition, when custody and parenting time are an issue, it is helpful to gather information relevant to the care of the child, such as parenting journals or e-mails between the parents.

  • Will I have to go through a trial to get a divorce?

    Each case is unique, but the majority of divorce cases are resolved outside of court, through agreement between the parties, negotiation between attorneys, or mediation. There will be a trial if you and your spouse are unable to reach agreement on all the issues. If the parties reach a partial agreement, a trial will resolve the issues that are still in dispute.


  • Can a wife have her former name restored?

    Upon request, a judge will grant one spouse’s request for a name change. However, a spouse cannot force the other spouse to stop using his or her last name just because the parties have been or will be divorced.

  • What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?

    A property settlement agreement is a written contract between the parties listing and dividing the marital property and financial obligations. It may also be used in settling custody, child support and spousal support in accordance with the wishes of the parties. A property settlement agreement reached before a trial is subject to a judge’s approval, but typically will be fully incorporated into the divorce judgment.

  • Will I lose my spouse's group health insurance after the divorce?

    You can ask to continue your health insurance coverage through your spouse’s employer by enrolling in the COBRA plan. This extension period can range from eighteen months to three years, but there are stringent requirements related to the enrollment period and prompt payment of premiums. Aside from COBRA, group health insurance plans generally do not allow a former spouse to remain covered on the ex-spouse’s plan.


  • Will either party be required to pay spousal support?

    Spousal support must be requested in the initial pleadings before a judge will consider awarding it. A judge will consider a variety of factors to determine whether spousal support is appropriate. These factors correspond to the type of spousal support that is ultimately awarded. Some basic factors include the length of the marriage, the parties’ earning capacity and financial needs, tax consequences of an award, and the parties’ work or educational experience.

  • Does spousal support automatically end if the receiving spouse remarries?

    In Oregon, no, although remarriage is something that a judge can consider if there is a request to modify or terminate the spousal support award. In addition, the parties may agree that spousal support will terminate upon remarriage. 

    In Washington, spousal maintenance automatically terminates when the spouse receiving maintenance remarries.

  • How will spousal support affect my taxes?

    The party receiving spousal support treats these payments as regular income for tax purposes. The party making the support payments can deduct these payments from their taxable income.

  • If I didn't get spousal support in my divorce judgment, can I go back to the court and get it later?

    No. Spousal support must be ordered in your original divorce decree or the court is powerless to award any spousal support.

Custody FAQs
  • What types of custody arrangements are possible?

    The court will award custody to the mother or father. Only if both parents agree will the court order joint custody. Joint parenting time does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split of time with the children. Both parents will cooperate in making decisions regarding the children’s residence, religion, schooling, medical/dental care, etc. A parent who does not have “physical” custody of a child is entitled to reasonable parenting time (visitation) with the child as well as other rights, including access to the child’s medical and educational records.

  • What if my spouse and I can't agree on the custody of our children?

    If the parents are unable to agree to joint custody and on which parent should have sole custody, the Court will make a custody award as part of the divorce. The Court’s decision will be based upon the “best interests” of the child. This process may involve mediation or a custody and parenting time evaluation.


  • If I have sole legal custody can I move out of state with my children?

    In Oregon, the Court may include a provision in the custody/parenting time order requiring that neither parent move more than sixty miles without giving reasonable notice to the other parent and to the Court. However, the court or your spouse may agree that you can move. The fact that one parent has sole custody does not give that parent an automatic right to move the child out of state. 

    In Washington, the primary parent may give notice of his/her intention to relocate, and unless the non-moving parent can show the move would be of serious detriment to the child, the move will be permitted. In other words, in Washington the presumption is that the primary parent’s decision to relocate will be in the best interests of child, and so relocations are often granted over the non-moving parents objections. 

  • Who will get custody of the children?

    In a dissolution of marriage proceeding involving children, the main concern of a judge is the best interests and welfare of the children. The property rights and the welfare of adults involved are secondary. Oregon law does not discriminate between mothers and fathers when determining custody.

Child Support FAQs
Visitation FAQs
Same-Sex Marriage FAQ
  • How is same-sex marriage different from "traditional" (different gender) marriage?

    Aside from the obvious same-gender vs. opposite-gender distinction, in places where same-sex marriage is legal, there is no legal difference between the two.

    The distinctions mainly arise when dealing with states or jurisdictions that do not recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in other states. These differences are important because certain rights and benefits of marriage that apply in one state may not apply in another state. For instance, pension survivor benefits can be greatly impacted depending on which jurisdiction a same-sex married couple resides in. For information regarding a specific state’s laws regarding same-sex marriage, speak with your attorney.

  • How is same-sex marriage different from a [registered] domestic partnership?

    Assuming we’re discussing a registered domestic partnership as under Oregon law, there are no legal differences between a registered domestic partnership and a same-sex marriage. This took affect in early 2014 when Federal Judge McShane ordered that same-sex marriage is allowed under Oregon law.


    Under Oregon law, registered domestic partnerships are granted all the legal rights and responsibilities of traditional marriage. The difference between the two largely rests in other states’ and jurisdictions’ recognition of an Oregon registered domestic partnership as a valid legal status. Whether a jurisdiction recognizes an Oregon registered domestic partnership will affect which rights and benefits a couple receives while in that jurisdiction. These rights include but are not limited to: access to retirement and pension benefits, hospital visitation rights, and parental rights. For example, under Oregon law, registered domestic partners have rights to receive potential custodial and parenting time rights if the partnership is dissolved. If another jurisdiction does not recognize the Oregon domestic partnership as valid, those rights may not exist in that other jurisdiction.


    *Note – registered domestic partnerships should not be confused with unregistered domestic partnerships. Unregistered domestic partnerships are a common law construct (i.e. non-statutory) that can be between same-sex couples or couples of different genders. They are entirely fact-derived circumstances and do not involve formal paperwork with the state. Unregistered domestic partnerships are, essentially, Oregon’s answer to common-law marriage.

  • Does the federal government recognize my same-sex marriage?

    With the June 2013 rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, any same-sex marriage validly licensed under State law is recognized by the federal government.


    As with many aspects of same-sex marriage, there are still certain jurisdictional issues to consider. Some federal agencies have differing standards pertaining to how certain benefits are paid out – the complications arise when different agencies use different distinctions for “place of marriage” vs. “place of residence” when doling out federal benefits. This area is quite complicated, and it would be advisable to consult with an expert in federal retirement benefits if you think that you may be entitled to federal benefits.

  • Will other states recognize my same-sex marriage?

    That depends on the state you’re in. The recognition of same-sex marriages is all over the map from state to state. For example: some states that do not license same sex marriage do recognize valid same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. It would behoove a same-sex couple to consult with an attorney in a jurisdiction to which they are considering relocating prior to a move. This will allow them to be as certain as possible regarding their legal rights, status, and obligations in a new jurisdiction.

Estate Planning FAQ
  • What is an Estate? Do I have one?

    Yes, you have an estate. Your Estate is basically the property you own.

  • What is Estate Planning?

    Estate Planning is the act of determining what happens to your estate after you’re gone. An estate plan can be a simple two page will or an intricate web of multiple trusts.

  • When is the right time for me to think about estate planning?

    You should think about estate planning after any major life changing event: a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or change in employment. You should also rewrite your estate plan if it has been more than seven years since you last revised your plan.

  • When should you change your estate plan?

    After a divorce or marriage, the birth of children or grandchildren, relocation, or a change in financial circumstances. Additionally after a change in the code, such as the 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act which changed over 800 sections of code.

  • Who should have an estate plan, will or trust?

    Everyone! There is an unfortunate, widespread misconception that only the wealthy need an Estate Plan. In fact, an Estate Plan is for anyone who wishes to provide for his or her survivors. If you pass away without a will or other Estate Plan, the laws of the state take over, and these laws may not reflect your wishes or provide for the ones you love.

  • Why is it important to use an estate planning professional to draft a will?

    Estate planning documents are only as good as the assistance, advice and instruction you receive with them. An estate planning professional will be able to ensure your assets are titled correctly, trusts are properly managed, and that your will adequately communicates your wishes.

  • When is it too late to draft a new will or other estate planning document?

    To draft a will you must have testamentary capacity, which means an ability to understand what it means to create a will, what property you own, who would naturally be your beneficiaries, and the terms of the document when you sign. You can be elderly and you can be sick, but as long as you have capacity and there is no undue influence placed on you, you can draft a new estate plan.