Family Law is much more than divorce and custody. It encompasses all issues which impact family relationships. It can involve legal issues which arise with the creation of family relationships, such as with adoptions, prenuptial or cohabitation agreements.

Issues which arise with the breakup of the marriage through divorce or separation can include child support, child custody and parenting time, spousal support and division of assets such as homes, businesses and retirement plans.

Unmarried couples can also have many of the same issues as married couples on breakup of a relationship, including the establishment of paternity, child support and custody, and parenting time.

Sometimes after custody and parenting time have been established, issues arise and  a change in custody, or modifications or enforcement of the parenting plan become necessary.

With all of the these issues, it is necessary to have a knowledgeable and experienced Family Law attorney on your side. Call Joel E. Fowlks at 503-653-1294 to arrange a Family Law consultation.

For most people, a divorce is an emotionally difficult process that brings with it a lot of stress, anxiety and hurt feelings. A major cause of the stress can be the uncertainty involved with beginning a process you don’t fully understand. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can help you better understand the process and give you the confidence that you have an advocate by your side fighting for your best interests.

Oregon is a no-fault state, meaning either party can obtain a divorce for any reason, as long as that person alleges that there are “irreconcilable differences” between the parties.  The common issues that arise in divorces involve spousal support, child support and parenting time, property division and child custody.

There are many issues which come into play with dividing a business as part of a divorce, including determining the true value of the business entity, and its income, assets and debts. Intangible assets like goodwill and hidden assets can complicate valuation, as can the difficulty of projecting future profits. Moreover, fair market value is only one value that Oregon courts will use in divorce and business. Other valuation standards such as “fair value,” “investment value” and “instrinsic value” can be used, and it is important to have an attorney who understands how each of these standards works.

It is important for your business attorney to partner with other financial professionals, such as accountants and valuation experts in determining the worth of the business.

In Oregon, child custody comes in two parts: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody addresses major decision-making rights, including the right to make decisions about school, religion, medical treatment and activities like sports and summer camps.

Physical custody addresses where the child lives. The parent who has the child the majority of the time is the physical custodian. The other parent typically has the right to parenting time, formerly referred to as visitation.

The court can award joint custody or sole custody. Joint custody is when both parents have equal power to make decisions. In Oregon a judge can only award joint custody when both parties agree to it.  In a contested custody case, the judge will rely on several factors set forth in ORS 107.137. The primary consideration is the best interests and welfare of the child.

The parties will either agree on, or the judge will develop, a detailed parenting plan, which sets out the parenting schedule for each parent and the rules for parenting.

Sometimes a judge will order the parties undergo a custody evaluation by an expert, who will make a recommendation to the court regarding custody and parenting time.

Child Support is monthly payments that one parent makes to another for care of the child. The amount of child support is determined based on the income of both parents, and other factors such as the number of children, the number of overnights the children spend with each parent, and the costs of health insurance and child care.

In some ways, the Oregon child support calculator has made determining child support easier. However, there are still many factors to consider when coming to an accurate calculation. Without comprehensive knowledge of proper data, you may not end up paying or receiving the correct amount of child support.

There are also many factors which allow deviations from the amount of support the calculator shows.  It is important to have an knowledgeable and experience Oregon child support lawyer.  Joel E. Fowlks can help you make sure the calculations are being done accurately and that you are getting the benefit of deviations to which you are entitled.

Spousal Support, commonly known as alimony, is a monthly payment from one spouse to the other spouse. These payments are based on several factors, including when there is a large disparity in income between the two parties. When one spouse stayed at home or worked part-time to raise kids while the other spouse was the breadwinner, a court will often find that some spousal support is appropriate.

In Oregon, there are three different types of spousal support: 1) Transitional Support (temporary payments meant to allow one spousal to re-enter into the job market and become self-sufficient), 2) Spousal Maintenance (usually in a longer marriage based on the financial need of one of the parties when there is a disparity in income), and 3) Compensatory Support (meant to compensate a spouse who has made a significant contribution to the education, career or training of the other spouse). A court can order one type of spousal support or a mix of any type.

The amount of monthly spousal support and the length of time it will continue depend on the particular facts of your case. Because there are no set rules, and no spousal support calculator like there is in child support, it is important to have an experienced and knowledgeable Oregon spousal support lawyer.

Many aspects of your divorce judgment can be modified if circumstances change substantially. If you or your spouse’s income has changed substantially or if the custody and parenting time arrangement is no longer in the best interests of the child, a modification of the rules going forward can create a better situation.  Not all changes in circumstance are going to be considered by a judge to be substantial enough to warrant modification.  If you have questions about modification, call Joel E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law at 503-653-1294.

Your parenting plan is a part of a court order and judges expect those orders to be followed. If a parent is in substantial non-compliance with the parenting plan, the other parent has a right to a hearing within 45 days. A court can then order make up parenting time, fine the spouse who is in non-compliance, award attorney fees, or even change the plan altogether.  If your spouse is not following the parenting plan, enforcement is a powerful tool to get compliance in a short period of time.

Unmarried parents of children have the same legal rights and responsibilities as married parents. If both parents agree on paternity, it can be established at the time of birth or anytime after.  If there is dispute about whether an individual is a child’s legal father, a paternity action can be filed to establish paternity. Sometimes genetic testing will be required to make the determination.

Once paternity is established, custody can be determined and a parenting plan and child support set up.

Premarital Agreements are helpful for parties to agree beforehand what assets they are bringing into a marriage and allow them to have a plan for how assets or liabilities might be divided in the case of a divorce or death. Oregon law allows for parties to enter a contract before they get married and agree how division of assets, liabilities and spousal support will be handled in case of divorce.

Couples who are already married can sign a postnuptial agreement as long as no divorce is imminent, and deal with the same issues as in a prenup.

Finally, unmarried couples who are living together can sign an agreement establishing what separate property each is bringing into the arrangement. This is helpful if the couple will be cohabitating in a house belonging to one of the parties. A Cohabitation Agreement will allow the homeowner to protect to house in the event of a breakup.

Oregon law now allows same-sex couples to register as domestic partners and receive the rights and obligations of married couples. If you have registered or are thinking about registering, we can assist you with asset planning and with agreements to determine how assets or liabilities might be divided if the relationship ends.

When a relationship between cohabitating nonmarried parties ends, whether same-sex or opposite sex, a party is entitled to file for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership and to have an equitable division of the assets.  Heterosexual couples can also set forth the obligations and rights of the parties in an agreement, to avoid a contested dissolution case if the relationship doesn’t last.

Now more than ever, the way families have formed has broadened. In a stepparent adoption, the legal relationship between one of the birth parents of a child is terminated and a stepparent becomes the new legal parent of the child. Stepparent adoption is an area of the law that requires an attorney with knowledge and experience in the field, and a feel for working with people during an emotional time in their lives.

Oftentimes a grandparent or relative has been involved in raising a child. Under Oregon law, there are certain circumstances in which a third party, such a grandparent or other relative can obtain custody or visitation rights if the court determines that the parents of the children are not acting in the best interest of the child. If you have questions about this area of law, call 503-653-1294.