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.

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.

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.

“With few exceptions, divorce is a traumatic and emotional experience,” says Portland-based divorce lawyer Deanna Jensen. “Aside from the strain on the family, there is the uncertainty involved in the process itself, which is not intuitive and, for most people, unknown territory.  That’s why it’s best to do some homework up front.”


To begin the divorce process in Oregon, you or your spouse must have been an Oregon resident for at least six continuous months immediately before you file a petition of dissolution of marriage.  You will file in the Oregon Circuit Court Clerk’s office in the county in which one of you lives.


“There are several major issues in a divorce proceeding.  They can include alimony (called “sp0usal support” in Oregon), a division of assets and debts, custody of your children, parenting time (visitation) for each parent with the children, and child support,” adds Jensen.  “If there is a family business, then there will be issues related to how that business is handled after the divorce.”


Information is the key to the process of dividing assets and debt, and it is called “discovery”.  You and your spouse are required to provide to each other, through your attorneys, documentary evidence of the value of your assets and the extent of your debts.  This sometimes requires appraisals of real and personal property, and valuations of retirement accounts (pensions) and businesses, depending on your family’s holdings.  In the event you and your spouse disagree about the value of an asset (such as your home), you should  be prepared to pay for the required valuations.


If you and your spouse have strong disagreements about custody and parenting time, you may need a custody and parenting time evaluation, which usually requires employing a psychologist trained or experienced in performing evaluations, or a similarly trained social worker.  There is also a significant cost to this process and it can take as long as 3 to 4 months.


If your divorce is fairly amicable, your lawyer and your spouse’s lawyer can assist you in reaching agreement short of going to court.  Another possibility is to use a good mediator.  It is important to choose a talented mediator who has extensive experience with divorcing couples and is fully familiar with statutory and case law.  Mediators are usually attorneys who have practiced family law and are familiar with the issues.  Another option is to use a retired judge as a mediator and there are several of them available.  There is a cost to using a mediator, and generally your attorneys are present for the mediation as well, however if mediation is successful, you save the cost of going to trial, which can be substantial.  The decision to negotiate or mediate allows you and your spouse to reach a compromise on your issues and craft an agreement instead of leaving it to a judge who usually sees the two of you for not more than a day.


Another option short of trial is to seek the assistance of collaborative lawyers.  This process involves entering into an agreement with your spouse and your attorneys that you will not go to trial, but will settle all of your issues in collaboration with each other (guided by your attorneys who are also committed to the collaborative process), with the understanding that if the collaborative process fails, neither of you can use your collaborative attorneys as your trial attorneys.


On the other hand, if you can’t reach an agreement in any of the joint processes just discussed, then you will have a trial in front of the judge who will hear both sides of the case before ruling on the key issues.  If you ultimately go to trial, the process itself can take as long as a year, and sometimes longer.

Jensen & Leiberan Attorneys at Law

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10300 SW Greenburg Road, Suite 300
Portland, OR 97223
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