“I’ve filed for divorce in Oregon or been served with divorce papers. What do I do now?”
- The first thing you should do is to decide whether or not you’re going to hire a paralegal, lawyer, or attorney. Historically, lawyers and attorneys were different, but today the terms are interchangeable. A paralegal is not a lawyer and not an attorney. A paralegal cannot practice law. If you can afford a divorce attorney, you should retain one to help you. The Oregon divorce process is actually more complex than it seems. Divorce in Oregon is technically referred to as a “dissolution of marriage in Oregon” because the legal relationship between two spouses is being dissolved. Unrepresented parties in Oregon divorce cases can certainly have their marriage dissolved, but without legal representation the terms of the divorce may not be favorable or even fair.
- Don’t delay. If you’ve filed for dissolution of marriage in Oregon, the opposing party has 30 days to respond once they’ve been served. Similarly, if you’ve been served with Oregon divorce papers, you have 30 days to respond to the court.
- Start getting organized. Your attorney is going to need significant information from you such as: bank statements, mortgage statements, past tax returns, credit card statements, paycheck stubs, titles and registrations to vehicles, and other documentation. If you can start finding and organizing these materials now, you can save time and money later.
- Avoid settling the case or making agreements with your spouse until you’ve been able to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer. Many people quickly try to resolve their case out of court– thinking it will save them time or money. However, it can sometimes do more harm than good to rush into a binding settlement agreement. You need to first know your options. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can help explain to you what you’re entitled to.
“How do I find the best Oregon divorce lawyer or divorce attorney?”
- You can do some research on the Internet, and read their reviews. For two insightful articles on how to pick the best divorce attorney, check out Don’t Get Stuck With The Wrong Lawyer: 6 Steps To Avoid the Most Common Divorce Mistake and How do I find a good divorce attorney?.
- Call 2-3 local divorce attorneys to schedule a consultation.
- Do not be surprised if the divorce lawyers you call charge for consultations. Most experienced divorce and family law attorneys charge for their time.
- Try to have your consultations in-person, if possible. While it is often more convenient to do a consultation by phone, much of communication is nonverbal. Therefore, you’ll get a better feel for the attorney by meeting them in-person.
- Be prepared to spend several thousand dollars on legal representation if you have significant assets. If things like child custody, parenting time, child support, division of assets and debts, and spousal support are all at issue, it will take an attorney several hours to resolve your case. The cost will be worth it in the long run because you will be much more likely to receive a fair settlement, and what you deserve.
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