Divorce can be an excruciatingly painful experience. Oftentimes, the lack of clarity of the future is enough to cause anyone emotional turmoil. The first step that is essential to the beginning of any divorce is to protect yourself. Although many spouses would like to have an amicable divorce, financial and custody disputes can often end in one spouse attempting to take advantage of the other. Instead of a war zone, think of your divorce as a business negotiation. There are things that your spouse wants; there are things that you want – a top divorce lawyer will recognize the desires from both sides to get you what you want from the divorce.
In order to begin the process of divorce, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the circuit court. From that point, the next steps consist of negotiating items such as child custody, alimony, division of property, and debts with your spouse.
In order to properly negotiate, it is often helpful to hire a third party to aid in the negotiations. For simple divorces, it can be a great idea to hire a mediator that will act as a third party to your negotiations. However, when children are involved a divorce can become more complicated. Although mediators may seem like a cheaper option, you should understand that the mediator’s job is to get you both to sign the agreement. This means that the mediator will not necessarily tell you what rights you have unless they are explicitly asked about it. With an experienced divorce lawyer, you will be able to expertly negotiate with your spouse so that you can leave the divorce without feeling that you have been taken advantage of.

Life changes over time. Whether it has to do with your job, your children, your physical well-being; it is important to have the support to accommodate such changes in your life. If you are the one providing the support to your former spouse, pivotal changes can also occur for you as well that would require modification of spousal support. No matter if you are receiving or providing support, you do have the right to a post-divorce modification that best suits your needs.
Keep in mind, did you sign any waiver that would prevent post-divorce modification? In certain marriage settlements, there may be an agreement to prevent post-divorce modification in regards to spousal support. The benefit may be that you will consistently receive the same amount of support or that you know exactly what you will need to pay your spouse. In these circumstances, it would be very difficult to modify spousal support.
If no such document exists, then you can persuade the court to readjust the support to fit your unexpected change. If you are a spouse that receives the support, be sure that you can explain to the court the extenuating circumstances surrounding the need for additional support. In Portland courts, it is not common to have support increased unless you are able to prove that you have fallen ill or have become disabled. In some cases, the fact that you have lost your job may be enough reason to reinstate more support, but this would only occur if the spousal support was intended to retrain you to enter the workforce. If you are a spouse providing the support, then you must also prove the special circumstances as to why you can no longer provide support. Losing you job qualifies; however, the courts will often rule paying a reduced sum instead of not paying support altogether. With the assistance of a Portland post-divorce modification attorney, you will have the strategic advantage to persuade the court to change the support to better compliment the next chapter of your life.

Divorces, especially with children, are often complex and draining. It can feel as though you had just come to an agreement with your former spouse as to parenting time, and then something changes and the terms of the agreement need to be modified. Perhaps, a parent is moving further away or is experiencing a change in their work schedule, which necessitates a new parenting plan. Perhaps the schedule you came up with when your child was a toddler is no longer appropriate now that your child is in school. Whatever your reasons are to adjust the current status, it is important to understand all the steps required to modify parenting time.
In Oregon, it’s a requirement to have a parenting plan in any divorce involving children. During the divorce, you and your former spouse likely created a parenting plan which determines when you and your former spouse spend time with your child. In an attempt to modify parenting time, it is always more beneficial if you can reach a compromise with your spouse, but this is not always possible.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your former spouse, then you must file a motion with the court requesting a change to the parenting plan. The standard for modifying just parenting time (not custody) is “the best interests of the child”, so you must explain to the court why your proposed changes are in the bests interests of your child. With an experienced Portland modification of child custody attorney to help, you will have the tools at your disposal to obtain the parenting time that you want.

Grandparents, step-parents, foster parents, and other extended family members often take on important roles in raising children. Usually, these relationships work out well and the children benefit from having multiple adults who care for them, but what happens when there’s a dispute about custody or visitation? Does the grandparent or other third-party have any rights? The answer depends on the nature of the relationship between the adult and the child.

If the grandparent/third-party wants to seek custody of the child, she must first prove that she’s had a “child-parent relationship” with the child within six months of the time of the court filing. What is a child-parent relationship? Oregon law defines it as a relationship in which the adult either had physical custody of the child or resided with the child and provided the child with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, care, education, and discipline. It is a relationship that “fulfilled the child’s psychological needs for a parent as well as the child’s physical needs.” ORS 109.119(10)(a).

If the grandparent/third-party wants to seek visitation, rather than custody, she must first prove that she has an “ongoing personal relationship” with the child. An ongoing personal relationship is defined as a “relationship with substantial continuity for at least one year, through interaction, companionship, interplay, and mutuality.” ORS 109.119(10)(b).

Once the grandparent/third-party is able to prove that she has either a child-parent relationship or the ongoing personal relationship, she must next prove that she can rebut the presumption that the legal parents act in the best interest of the child. Since grandparents/third-parties are not legal parents, they are viewed differently than legal parents in custody and visitation cases. The law presumes that if a legal parent wants to limit contact between a grandparent/third party and a child, that the legal parent in acting in the child’s best interest. It’s up to the grandparent/third-party to prove this is not true. The court looks at various factors to determine whether a parent is acting in the best interests of their child. Some of those factors include: whether the legal parent has encouraged or fostered the relationship between the grandparent/third-party and the child; whether the legal parent is unable or unwilling to care for the child; whether the grandparent/third-party currently is or has been the child’s primary caretaker; and whether the legal parent has unreasonably denied contact between the grandparent/third-party and the child.

Even if the grandparent-third-party is able to prove that the legal parent is not acting in the best interests of the child, there is still one final step in the process. The court must examine what is in the best interests of the child. In this step, the court looks at the same factors that it looks at in a custody and parenting time case between two legal parents. These factors are discussed in more detail in our blog post on custody. https://www.jensen-leiberan.com/blog/category/family-law-attorneys/custody/

Overall, grandparent/third-party custody and visitation cases are legally complex and it is important that you have an experienced family law attorney advocating for you if you are involved in this type of case.

It is already difficult enough to organize a custody schedule when living close to a former spouse. But what if your former spouse is choosing to move to another state? There is little to discuss when looking at a custody schedule. In truth, only one parent will be able to live with their child full time. How can you ensure that you get custody of your own children?
Whether you are the parent that is moving away or not, keep in mind that Oregon has laws that require parents to provide notice to the other parent if they are moving more than 60 miles further away from the other parent. Often, moves of this distance require the parents to reevaluate their current parenting schedule, so the law requires they give ample notice so the other parent can file for a modification if necessary.
If moving states is necessary, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act will determine which state will have jurisdiction over the custody case of your child. In many instances, this will be determined by what the law considers the child’s “home state.” That’s usually the state where they lived for the last six months prior to the legal proceedings. If there are special circumstances concerning this distinction, the court will take that into account.
The two key factors that courts consider when determining the custody of the child is the connections that the child has to where they live and their relationship with their parents. The courts are trying to create a scenario in which the child will benefit most despite the change. So if moving means that they will have to separate from close family members, teachers, or any other figures that are important in their lives; the courts will most likely rule on them staying. Of course, the second factor will consider their home lives with each parent. Is one parent neglectful or abusive? With an experienced Portland interstate custody disputes attorney, you will be able to present a convincing case that shows that your child will ultimately benefit by being in your custody.

Divorce is, without a doubt, complex and overwhelming. Divorces involve negotiating complicated matters such as child custody, spousal support, and division of property. Of course, these matters amplify in difficulty when you and your spouse are wealthy with multiple assets on the line. In Oregon, no matter if you were partners with your spouse in accumulating that wealth or a homemaker supporting the ability for your spouse to accumulate wealth – you are entitled to an equitable amount of the assets. In order to ensure that you receive every possible benefit from the negotiations, you should hire an experienced divorce attorney who will help you navigate through the complexities of your divorce.
When confronting a high-asset divorce, negotiations can include: company assets, collectibles, retirement accounts, future earnings, properties, stock options, business goodwill, and any domestic or international accounts. In order to guarantee that you will receive an equitable portion of the assets, you will need to have an attorney carefully comb through the different assets that you and your spouse have. Review of assets can come in the form of reviewing intricate financial documents, business valuations, family trusts, marital debts, assets intended for child support, and cash flow. The fact of the matter is that you need to have both an understanding of the assets, and the laws behind them so that you can retain your fair share.
In addition, you may need to have an attorney search for hidden assets that your spouse may have. Although it may seem like they have successfully hidden their accounts from the public eye, you do have the ability to expose your spouse so that you and your children are properly taken care of. With a strategic and thorough divorce attorney, you will be able to navigate the difficulties of your divorce with ease.

When you and your former spouse decide that a divorce is the way to go, there is an expectation that you and your former spouse will be amicable towards each other. The divorcing couple may even have that intention, but unfortunately, even the best efforts can fall to the wayside once the negotiations begin. For many parents, they experience a creeping realization that the repercussions of the divorce will affect their livelihood as well as the livelihood of their children.

When negotiating a divorce settlement, there are many laws and factors that make the understanding of your rights complicated. If you want to protect yourself and your children, you must have a thorough understanding of family appeals law as well as the help of an attorney. If the initial negotiations fail and you must go to trial, being knowledgeable of the law will help you determine if the court ruled correctly.

Sometimes, the judges will misinterpret a piece of evidence or a law that will result in the court ruling against you in full or in part. If you feel that the court had ruled incorrectly, you have the right to contest the ruling at an appellate court. Or if your former spouse is contesting the decision, then you need to have the tools to protect the original ruling.

Appellate courts, as opposed to trial courts, will only consider a change in the ruling if the original ruling resulted from the trial court misinterpreting evidence or the law. Also, appellate courts will always have a bias to affirm the trial court’s ruling. Depending on if you are contesting the original ruling or not, this fact can be good or bad. Either way, it is essential to have a Portland family appeals law attorney that has the experience to present the evidence of the case to persuade the appellate court to rule in your favor.

Stepping into your home, you look around to see items that you and your spouse own. Dividing such property and debts, may not end on the friendliest of terms. What will they take? How much is this going to cost me? At the beginning of a divorce, it is important that you, yourself, take inventory of the marital property, all assets, and obligations both inside and outside the home. You must take note of all property that was accumulated during the marriage, because some items may go missing, even gifts. Also, creating a list of all the marital property, including assets and debts, will give you a clearer picture of what is important to you.

Second, you should take a walk with your spouse and make a list together. The key here is to understand what your spouse prioritizes without having to be in a hostile environment. Don’t tell them what you want yet; this is not a “calling dibs” contest. Your goal is to negotiate a settlement where your spouse doesn’t feel that they have been taken advantage of during the division of marital property. Also, keep in mind that Oregon is an equitable distribution state, but this does not necessarily mean that everything will be split right down the middle. Oregon courts will consider factors such as financial contributions to certain assets, taxes, and children to fairly determine what property will go to whom. In regards to financial contributions to certain assets, you can argue to a court if you feel that your spouse did not contribute to purchasing a certain item/asset.

Also, make sure that you take account of the smaller, less valuable items in the house. Is there a family album that you want? What about a book collection? These items are often mixed up during the move. Once these items are with your spouse, you may never get them back. To make sure that you stay protected during the divorce, be sure to hire an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that you get what you want.

Throughout the course of a marriage, people change, but few things can be as jarring as when a spouse comes out and declares their homosexuality.

“While the acceptance of gay and lesbian rights in Oregon has rightly been a cause for celebration, one of the by-products of this change is that more and more children in marriages where one parent comes out are in a custody dispute,” says Portland attorney Deanna Jensen, who’s firm frequently takes cases involving LGBT custody issues.


With the passage of a series of laws at the state and federal level, child custody issues should be treated just as they are in heterosexual divorce proceedings.  However, despite the letter of the law, when one of the parties in a marriage dissolution comes out as gay, there’s an increased likelihood that that  person may experience some form of bias.


“Although for several years now our Oregon courts have been very even-handed and often sympathetic when dealing with the LGBT community, it is not uncommon for a party and/or an attorney to present the case involving a parent who has come out with bias and derision.  This makes the dissolution process very emotionally difficult, leads to more litigation, and is often more costly for the family,” adds Jensen.


If you are concerned that you are experiencing bias because you have come out as gay in a heterosexual marriage, it’s best to consult a Portland attorney who has experience in LGBT custody issues.  You can get an attorney referral from the National Center for Lesbian Rights at www.nclrights.org or research possibilities on any number of other specialized data bases.

In May 2014, Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage was overturned resulting in the state recognizing no legal differences between a same-sex and opposite-sex marriage.  That means same-sex couples will face the same standards and laws in divorce or child custody proceedings as an opposite-sex couple.


On the surface, to some people, that may mean there is no need to work with a Portland based attorney with experience in LGBT family law.  But the value of retaining an LGBT family law attorney is still important when dealing with legal issues that cross state lines where same sex marriages are not officially recognized.  Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that a same-sex marriage considered valid under a state’s law is also recognized by the Federal government, there are still complications and issues that exist on a state by state basis.


What is consistent, however, is that with the Supreme Court ruling in June of 2015, equal rights were affirmed for all citizens in the United States, including same-sex families, as guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment.


That means same-sex married couples now enjoy:


Tax Benefits – same-sex couples now benefit from state and federal tax rules that apply during marriage, including filing jointly and avoiding estate taxes on state and federal returns.


FMLA Benefits – Under the Family Medical Leave Act, same-sex couples taking a leave of absence from employment to care for a spouse now enjoy this benefit. Maternity and paternity provisions also apply to these couples as well.


Employee Benefits – Same-sex couples can now be included on the medical, dental and other types of health plans of their spouse.


Property Rights – Same-sex couples now enjoy the same provisions as heterosexual couples when it comes to property benefits, division of federal and state retirement plans, and marital estate planning.



Jensen & Leiberan Attorneys at Law

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