A Four Part Guide to Getting a Divorce in Oregon or Washington: Part Two, Preparing to Get a Divorce
Every marriage has rocky times and nobody wants to go through a divorce if they don’t have to. When people are in a marriage that has fallen on rough times, or where they have started to realize their feelings may have changed for their spouse, the possibility of divorce can become real. The goal of this article is to offer information to help set your expectations for what divorces can actually look like in your life should you decide to go through with a divorce. The second goal of this article is to offer you advice on how to protect yourself from getting taken to the cleaners in the event of a divorce.
You may want to read the first part of this series before heading on to the rest of this article: The Divorce Process: A Guide to Divorce in Oregon and Washington: Part 1.
If you are facing a potential divorce in Oregon or Washington, it will be nice to know what to expect through the divorce process. I like to lump divorces into 4 categories: uncontested or amicable divorces, divorces that need mediation, slightly contested divorces, and the one everyone dreads, the fully contested divorce, which could be otherwise named the ugly monster divorce.
1. Uncontested or amicable divorces.
This is where you and your spouse get along reasonably well. An uncontested divorce is the the kind of divorce you should look into if you and your spouse agree and know what you want done in your divorce. In these cases, divorces can be very peaceful and easy, and really all you need to do is find a lawyer to help you do the paperwork to legally disentangle yourselves from each other. If this ends up describing your case, consider yourself fortunate as you just saved a ton of money.
You may be interested in our article 5 Ways Uncontested Divorce Can Save Money
2. Divorces that need mediation.
Some people desperately want to work out their own agreement and save money on lawyers, but are stuck on a few things. A lot of times these types of cases can also be solved with less work than a more hotly contested divorce, however the people involved need a little push in the right direction. Spending a few hundred dollars on a mediator can be very beneficial, letting the divorce be resolved fairly easily. These divorces can take a few weeks or a few months, but so long as everything goes well the divorce can be resolved without stress. Often if these cases go badly, which does happen on occasion, they morph into a slightly contested divorce like we describe below.
3. Slightly contested divorces.
A slightly contested divorce is where both sides go out and hire family lawyers, but stay focused on working towards a resolution. While there is some animosity between the parties, they behave reasonably and work with their lawyers to negotiate a compromise. These types of cases usually never see the inside of a courtroom, but they often involve some stress, and can last for several months.
If this sounds like your case, you may find our article Negotiating a Divorce Settlement: The Top 5 Mistakes & How to Avoid Them helpful.
4. Contested Ugly Monster Divorces.
The old saying that it takes two to tango doesn’t really apply to a divorce heading in a stressful direction. In divorce cases, it only takes one person to stop cooperating before your case can turn into an expensive, time consuming mess. These types of cases are a double edged sword. What I mean by this is when some people know that their divorce will be in this category, try everything they can to delay or postpone getting divorced. In reality, if you are going to have to go through a divorce like this, sometimes it is better to do it sooner rather than later. Often, the longer you wait to get a divorce, the harder it is for the courts to untangle the messy relationship. These cases can last for months or years depending on how much everyone fights, but there are a some things you can do to help yourself and your case.
In trying to protect yourself, there are a few things you can do to place yourself in a better position for your divorce. In Oregon divorce law, there are really two things that matter more than anything else:
1. Who takes care of the children?
When you go through a divorce, one of the biggest fights is over what happens with the kids. The first decision a judge will have to make is, “who has been the primary parent?” In preparing for an inevitable divorce, sometimes the best thing you can do is start increasing your role as a parent. The more involved you are with the kids for the months or years before a divorce, the better position you will be in to establish a favorable parenting plan.
2. Who is the primary earner?
When the two spouses earn a different amount of money, the higher earner often has to pay spousal support (other states call this alimony) to the lower earner. The longer you are married, the more years you will have to pay this for. Typically, a marriage lasting over 20 years can lead to the higher earner paying spousal support indefinitely (forever). The bigger the income difference, the more will be paid. It doesn’t matter whether the higher earner likes the income difference. Often times one person will quit their job, over their spouses objection, and stay home to care for the kids. Three years later, this sore spot burns into a flame that causes serious stress on the marriage. Unfortunately for the higher earner, it really doesn’t matter whether they agreed with the decision to stay home or not, they will be stuck paying higher support.
There are things you can do to protect yourself from a spouses bad decision, but you will need to talk to an experienced divorce lawyer to get good advice on how to ensure you don’t set yourself up for failure in an upcoming divorce.
Hopefully this has provided a better understanding of the preparation stage of divorce so you can make an informed decision about if a divorce is the direction you are ready to go in. Brasier Law is available to people in Oregon and Washington if you have questions about going forward with your divorce.
You may now be wondering who should help you do your divorce our next article in this series will help you decide if you should hire a divorce attorney, a mediator, or if you can do it yourself. Go read “Who do I Hire to Do My Divorce?” now to help you decide.