Acknowledging that your marriage is no longer working can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. As you wrestle with how the end of your marriage will impact your life moving forward, you will be asked to make several weighty decisions that carry lasting consequences for you, your ex-spouse, and any children you have. While most people understand the main aspects of the divorce process in Oregon, such as dividing marital property and debts, negotiating spousal support, and navigating child custody and child support matters, there are other factors that you should consider when preparing for your divorce. If you are starting to explore your divorce options in the greater Portland area, you should consider enlisting the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney who can help you make informed decisions with greater clarity and confidence.
Oregon is Considered a “No-Fault” Divorce State
Some people wonder whether they need to cite a specific reason for pursuing a divorce. For instance, they may blame a cheating spouse for the failure of their marriage. However, Oregon is considered a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that you are not required to prove adultery, abandonment, cruelty, or another form of marital misconduct to pursue a divorce. All you need to do is to state that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences,” meaning that you see no path forward to resolve your differences. This means that either spouse may request a divorce, even without obtaining permission from the other spouse. As long as you want out of a marriage that is no longer working, you have the right to pursue a divorce.
Either Spouse May Initiate Divorce Proceedings
Either spouse may file a petition for divorce at any time. The petitioner must complete the required legal paperwork, file it with the court, and pay a filing fee. Once the paperwork is filed, this triggers an automatic freeze on certain accounts, the inability to cancel or change insurance policies, and the prohibition of changing the beneficiaries on any existing retirement accounts. The petitioner will have the petition and accompanying documentation served on the other spouse, and the recipient must then respond to the petition within 30 days of being served. If you have recently been served with divorce papers, contact a divorce attorney right away to discuss your options. Together, you can craft a strategic response that protects your best interests and increases your chances of obtaining a fair and equitable outcome.
Dividing Up Marital Property and Debts
While most people recognize that marital property must be divided during a divorce, it is important to note that these negotiations will also address the division of debt obligations. Oregon courts strive to ensure that both spouses walk away from the marriage on a relatively equal financial footing that allows them to enjoy a similar standard of living to that which occurred during the marriage. When the court assesses marital debt, it assumes that both spouses contributed to its acquisition, regardless of whose name is on the official title, credit card, mortgage, or business loan. Debts incurred during the course of the marriage are typically divided according to the equitable distribution model, meaning that one spouse’s debt obligation amassed during the marriage becomes partially the other’s responsibility as well. However, if your spouse entered the marriage with debts, such as student loans, the court will most likely spare you from taking on this obligation after the divorce is finalized.
How Divorce Affects Life Insurance
Another aspect of divorce that is often overlooked is its impact on life insurance. After the divorce is finalized, you can contact your life insurance agent to update your beneficiaries. Sometimes, people decide to forgo the death benefit and take the cash value of their existing whole life or universal life policies. If you are interested in exploring this option, you should discuss the matter with your divorce attorney and probably financial advisor to determine the most strategic course of action. In many cases, you will need to list the life insurance policy, including its cash value, among the marital assets to be divided during the divorce. The equitable distribution model will likely mean that you and your spouse will walk away with a piece of the policy’s cash value, or half of it will be ‘offset’ by the receipt of another asset of equal value.
Working With an Attorney is Your Best Bet
Although some couples decide to navigate the divorce process without legal counsel, there are several advantages to enlisting the guidance of a trusted Portland divorce attorney. Your lawyer can assess the details of your situation and help you articulate your divorce goals. From there, you can develop a strategy to reach these goals and secure the resources you need to begin your life’s next chapter. You can rely on your attorney to answer your questions, address your concerns, and support you through each step of the divorce process.
Call Kuzma Law LLC today at (503) 406-1787 to discuss your goals with a trusted and experienced Portland divorce attorney.