When spouses are divorcing and there are children under the age of 18, the main issues being considered are: custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, and the division of the assets and debts of the marriage.
Custody in Oregon refers to deciding which parent will be responsible for making “major” decisions for the child. The major decisions are usually in the areas of education, religion, and non-emergency major medical. Parenting time means what amount of time each parent will spend with the child. How parenting time is divided varies greatly depending on the age of the child, the parent’s schedules, and distance between the homes, among other factors. Child support is calculated taking into account each parent’s income, health insurance expenses, child care expenses, whether a parent has any other children, and the parenting time percentages. If a child is between the age of 18 and 21, that “adult child” will also be a party to the divorce and has a right to pursue child support from either or both parents.
Spousal support and the division of assets and debts is discussed more in the next section.
When there are no children under the age of 21 involved, the process for a divorce will be the same but there will be only two main issues: spousal support and the division of the assets and debts of the marriage. Spousal support is what many individuals still call “alimony.” There is no set formula for calculating the amount of spousal support, and your attorney will help guide you in what to expect for this calculation depending on the facts of your specific case.
When dividing the assets and debts of a marriage, Oregon is an “equitable” division jurisdiction, not an “equal” division jurisdiction. This means that the division does not have to be completely equal, so long as in the overall outcome it is determined “equitable” under the circumstances. Assets and debts are looked at differently depending on whether they were acquired before or after the date of marriage, though anything owned or owed by either party can be taken into consideration.
For your attorney to be best able to advise you regarding your rights and options, it is very important to share complete and accurate information with your attorney.
For parents who are not married to one another, the issues are usually narrowed to paternity establishment, custody, parenting time, and child support.
The first step is to establish paternity for the child. This can be done by signing a Voluntary of Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit, through a process involving the Division of Child Support, or through a court order.
Once paternity is established, the issues of custody, parenting time, and child support can be addressed. Both parents will have the same rights and responsibilities regarding the child to these issues whether or not they were ever married to one another.
If you already have a divorce judgment or a judgment for custody, parenting time, and child support, life can always bring changes requiring a modification of the existing judgment. The court can modify spousal support, custody, parenting time schedules, and child support figures when certain criteria are met.
The criteria varies depending on which issue is up for a change. The best way to find out whether a modification of terms is an option for you is to meet with an experienced attorney who can review your information and let you know your options.