“Divorce” is not a dirty word. It is a fact of modern life that four in ten first marriages will end in divorce, and that even higher percentages of second and third marriages end that way.
When you have reached the end of your rope, and your marriage has to end, don’t handle it yourself. Divorce is a very complicated legal process. Internet forms and the advice of well-meaning friends just can’t protect all of your rights. It’s kind of like flying an airplane: while you might get lucky and be able to get to your destination in one piece by yourself, the use of an experienced pilot greatly enhances your odds of getting where you want to go. A divorce attorney is your pilot on this life journey.
If you have children, what kind of custody arrangement will you have? Whether you want sole custody or joint custody is a major factor in your case. We sometimes find that our clients are more focused on spending a lot of quality time with their children and that custody is of secondary importance. Either way, you need to be careful to tailor your custody and parenting plan arrangements to the needs of your children. Cookie cutter plans don’t work well for most families.
Financial support is another important consideration in most divorces. When there are children, of course child support has to be addressed. This includes medical insurance and responsibility for payment of uninsured medical expenses of the children. Spousal support is another major factor, especially when there has been a great disparity of income between the spouses in a longer-term marriage. Both of these kinds of support involve examining the parties’ incomes, ongoing personal expenses, debts, assets, health, and future economic prospects.
Dividing property and debt is an added complexity in divorce and family law. If one party is going to keep the house, how much is it worth? With the house comes debt; is it possible for that person to refinance the house, to relieve the other party of responsibility for the mortgage? How much are the cars worth, and who is going to keep the travel trailer and the quads? Is the person keeping the credit card debts able to make the monthly minimum payments? What happens is a spouse declares bankruptcy, leaving the banks to look only to the party who wasn’t supposed to get stuck with any debt?
The bottom line is this: Don’t go it alone through a divorce; hire an experienced divorce and family law attorney from Eggert & Associates Attorneys at Law to help you!
Child Custody From the Best Family Law Firm in Salem, Oregon
At our Salem law firm, we can help you with child custody, which is centered around the best interests of the child. Defining what actions have those interests at heart, and getting the other parent or the judge to agree with you, is a detailed process in any divorce and family law case.
Married parents who are divorcing have to deal with this issue as do unmarried parents who are no longer living together. Unmarried parents sometimes have an additional hurdle to jump over, determining legal paternity of the child. Your child’s unmarried father has no right to visitation or custody until paternity has been established. This makes it critical to find out whether a father is named on the birth certificate, and to get that corrected as soon as possible.
Custody is really all about control. The custodial parent has the sole decision-making authority over the big things: residence, education, and medical care. In Oregon, there is another option: joint custody. When parents have joint custody, they share in the decision-making. Joint custody cannot be imposed on unwilling parents; it can only be agreed to when the parties get along in performing parenting duties.
It is important to remember that nearly everything a parent does with his or her child is done without referring to custody. The decision to take a child to a baseball game, to go fishing, to go to church together, and to seek emergency medical attention, are all done irrespective of who has custody. These things are all part of parenting time.
For many parents, parenting time (also called “visitation”) is much more important than custody. Developing a well thought-out, flexible and detailed parenting schedule is essential to maintaining your relationship with your child over the years. Defining when your weekends fall, vacations, summer schedules, birthdays, holidays, and so forth, is a complex process. Done right, a solid parenting plan can make dealing with the other parent easier when there are miscommunications or even disagreements in scheduling.
Your child may have grown very close to your current spouse, and over the years lost contact with their other natural parent. Your current spouse may, with your consent, adopt your son or daughter, providing your child with a two-parent home.
Modification and Enforcement
As the years pass, circumstances change. Parents sometimes stop using their parenting time, incomes can change drastically up or down, and the needs of the children also change as they grow. The judgment doesn’t change all by itself, however. You need ask the court to modify the judgment, whether it’s for custody, parenting time, child support or spousal support.
Whether it’s your ex-husband isn’t paying his child support, or your ex-wife is refusing to let you see your child, self-help isn’t the answer. You need to file for enforcement of the court’s judgment and orders. This way you get the power of the court to help you get the money you are supposed to be paid and to see your children when you are supposed to have them.