It can be helpful to break up how you view your divorce into three time periods. The before, the during, and the after. The before period is while you are considering your options, getting ready to go through with it, or just preparing yourself for the possibility that you might need to go to court. The during period is the actual legal process of getting divorced, from when you first hire your Oregon divorce lawyer until the case concludes. After obviously would be how to move forward with ensuring everything goes smoothly once the lawyers are out of the way.
There are a couple things you can do before your divorce to help you prepare. However, mostly this time period should be used to help set you up financially and emotionally for the difficult “during” period ahead of you. The best advice I can give you legally, is that as soon as you think divorce or court involvement is a distinct possibility, consult with an Oregon family law attorney.
It can be scary, and make it that much more real to call a divorce attorney, but it is necessary. There are so many mistakes people make accidentally because they don’t know the law. Some are minor, but some can have huge ramifications. Everyone’s situation is different. For some people, the advice you’ll get from the attorney is that you don’t need to worry about anything. For others, they might receive some concrete do/don’t list items to start doing. Following that list will prepare them for how a judge might view them later.
Setting aside the legal advice an attorney can offer you for the moment though, the best preparations are often emotional and financial. Before starting the divorce case, have some plans in place for how you can support yourself once you notify your spouse you are filing for divorce.
This is especially true if you are financially dependent upon them. This might include talking to family or friends and finding out if they can help support you financially for a short while. It also might include taking out a credit card in your name to help pay the bills if you find yourself in a pinch.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to find out what emotional support you have available. If you have a solid social group or a good connection with your family, talk to them so they are aware you will be going through a difficult time. You may need to stay with friends for short periods of time if living together during the divorce is too stressful. Talking through this with those close to you, and having a plan in place can help alleviate a lot of the stress that overwhelms many divorcing couples. This is not enough for many people though and often it can be helpful to have emotional support from a therapist or counselor in addition to family and friends.
During the Divorce:
Setting your expectations for the “During” stage can be important. For most people, the actual divorce process can take anywhere from 3 to 9 months from start to finish. During this time, your Oregon divorce lawyer will handle most of the work for you. The legal documents will be filed. You both will then be required to exchange financial documents to allow full transparency on both sides. Then, the attorneys will try to negotiate a deal allowing everyone to avoid court. If a deal can’t be reached, then your attorney will prepare your case for trial and work to convince the judge to give you what you are owed. Eventually, you will be given a signed “Judgment” of divorce ending your marriage, and containing all of the rules everyone is expected to follow.
The Judgment: The Road Map for After the Divorce
Your divorce judgment will contain the road map showing everyone’s obligations moving forward. If you have children, it will contain the detailed rules for what each of you are required to do for the care of the children. It may contain a support requirement, where one of you needs to make monthly payments to the other. There might be terms requiring each of you to work together to sell the house and divide the proceeds.
Whatever terms your divorce judgment contains, it will outline how everyone is supposed to behave moving forwards. For most people, things go smoothly. The better your attorney is at drafting this document, the more smoothly you can expect things to run. A poorly worded divorce judgment can cause the “after” period to be a nightmare. For example, if your parenting plan contains vague rules that aren’t clear and easy to follow, then both parents might interpret the words in their favor.
You then would have to go to a judge to have them interpret the ambiguity in a way they find appropriate. Most “after” pitfalls can be avoided by having a clear, well drafted judgment done by a competent divorce attorney. The biggest problem with people who try to do their own divorces, without an attorney I mean, is they often butcher this final judgment resulting in a horrific “after” divorce experience.
You also need to know that no matter how well worded your divorce judgment is drafted, if the other party refuses to follow the rules, that will need to be dealt with. Often, the best remedy for someone refusing to follow the court order is to have them held in contempt. It can be very daunting to hear that you might go through a 3 to 9 month divorce, only to turn around and go right back to court if your irritating ex decides not to follow the rules. The good news is, when that happens the party in contempt almost always has to pay the other parties’ attorney fees, and often gets significant consequences handed down by a judge.
We hope this was a help look into what to expect during the process of a divorce. If you are looking for an Oregon family law attorney we have a few articles that maybe helpful in finding a good fit. We recommend: Why You Should Take Advantage of the Free Consultation Family Law Attorneys Offer, Picking the Right Divorce Lawyer for You, Planning for Divorce: A Checklist.