How do we split our personal property?
There are many parts to most divorce settlements, and personal property division is just one element. The easiest (and by far the cheapest) way is to hire an appraiser who can value the property of each person. With an appraisal of values a division of property is far easier. Neither party feels that they are getting ripped off. The courts do not like to decide who gets the CDs and who gets which DVD, so a good attorney will encourage you and your ex to settle minor property issues outside of court. An attorney can also help you understand the decisions that need to be made when dividing your personal property. It is almost always cheaper to pay an appraiser a few hundred dollars than it is to spend time, money and energy debating the division of personal property.
What is spousal support, and will I get it?
Oregon State considers divorce as “no fault.” That means that as far as the court is concerned, it is irrelevant if your spouse cheated on you and ran away with your best friend. When a court looks at your case, the Judge will make a determination on spousal support by looking at many factors including the length of the marriage, the age, health and earning capacity of each party. These are just a few considerations. There are many more.
There is no law that guarantee that you will receive spousal support. There is a law that allows spousal support under various circumstances. If the court determines that spousal support is appropriate, the Judge will set it at a level and duration that will encourage each party to become independent of each other as soon as that is reasonably possible.
In all spousal support cases, the court will try to make the financial situation “not too disproportionate from that which you enjoyed during the marriage.”
That means that even if your spouse earned $50,000 while you stayed at home and cared for the kids, you can expect a judgment that aims to make both your lifestyles similar.
The court will want you to become independent as soon as possible, but factors such as age, health, education, absence from the workforce, needs of the children, and length of the marriage will assist the court in making its decision.
Without question, on the issues of spousal support, you need an attorney.
It is also important to know that the amount of spousal support, like child support, can change if circumstances change, like a raise, or loss of a job etc.
My ex is bound to hide assets, what can I do?
We can help. The court requires a full disclosure of assets, and that means nothing is allowed to be hidden. That is called fraud and Judges hate liars and cheaters. Write a list of anything you think your ex-spouse might be hiding. We will work hard to make sure you are treated fairly and with respect.
The toughest cases of hiding assets involve self employed business owners who deal in cash. How do you account for every dollar? Is it worth it? Why am I struggling so much and my ex has so much money? We can require full disclosure and if we need, we will take depositions to see if your ex is hiding assets. No one can say the other person won’t lie, but if they do and are exposed, the courts are very helpful in correcting fraud.
People forget or don’t realize that when they file for divorce, they are under the immediate control of the court. We can get orders to help minimize hiding and fraud.
I need my ex’s medical insurance… help?
Asking for your ex to cover the cost of your medical insurance may be a part of your divorce settlement, and you are entitled to COBRA insurance if you were covered by insurance while you were married. Medical insurance can be a big cost to divorced couples – make sure you ask your lawyer about ways to protect yourself.
Why use a lawyer? I’ve got a book on do-it-yourself divorce.
Do-it-yourself books can make for useful reading and background, but it can be extremely expensive to change or unwind a poorly done DIY divorce. Cleaning up a mess is much more expensive than hiring a lawyer initially. You know the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
While there are cases where it can work out well, the risk that the settlement is unfair is great, and cleaning up the mess is a costly affair. Although we understand that divorce is not a cheap process, it is important to do it right the first time.
How do I prepare to leave my spouse?
The first thing to do is hire a lawyer. There are many pitfalls, and an attorney’s advice could easily mean the difference between losing custody of your children or not, and owning your house or not. It is simply not a risk worth taking.
There are some practical things that people can do to get ready for divorce.
Take pictures and make a list of your personal property, room by room. Get informed on your financial situation. You may be very surprised if you have not been involved with the family finances for a while. Establish your own individual bank accounts and credit. Maintain a diary of daily events that address the issues concerning care of the children, their daily routines and you, your spouse and the children. Most divorce cases involve two good parents. Do not be afraid to give credit to your spouse for being a good parent.
But, if your situation involves an abusive spouse (to you or your children), keep a log, get witnesses, and most importantly, get yourself and your children safe. There are many safe homes in your community that will assist you in getting out of an abusive situation.
My ex took all the money from our joint account. What can I do?
The only way to stop this is to prevent it. By seeking counsel with me before you leave your spouse, we may be able to obtain a restraining order that will “freeze” your joint assets – savings and retirement accounts and joint checking and credit card accounts, so that your ex cannot take more than his or her fair share. That said, it is to be expected that you and your spouse continue to access your accounts for your usual expenses until settlement (see Top Ten Dumb Things To Do During A Divorce).
What will this whole thing cost?
Here’s a nice answer. I don’t know. Divorce is generally not cheap.
A typical legal fee for a divorce with a fair degree of co-operation between the parties can be around $2,000, but this varies greatly according to how complex the issues are in your case. In hotly contested or complex cases attorney fees have run upwards of $10,000 to $35,000. I’ve heard, but never been involved with cases where the fees of the attorneys were more than $100,000.
We usually charge an initial retainer fee and then bill accordingly if more fees and costs are incurred. Once again, divorce is not cheap, and you can expect your lifestyle to change. You may need to ask your parents or family for help.