Helping people through the divorce process in Oregon:
Divorcing couples can reach out-of-court settlement in a number of ways.
If the couple is able to communicate effectively, they can negotiate themselves. Couples who negotiate their own agreements should consult with attorneys before they sign to ensure that they are fully aware of their own rights under the law.
Alternatively, divorcing couples may choose to hire their own lawyers to negotiate on their behalf. When the parties are committed to settling the case out of court, this option can save each person significant expense while reducing the amount of direct communication with a former spouse.
In the mediation process, a neutral mediator, who may or may not be an attorney, meets with the parties to resolve a divorce or parenting plan dispute. The mediator does not act as an attorney for either party and may not give any advice. If appropriate, the mediator may explain pertinent areas of the law to facilitate the discussion and resolution. Parties in mediation frequently retain attorneys for advice during for mediation process. There are also several retired trial court judges who offer very effective mediation services.
In a collaborative divorce, the parties use a team of professionals to reach an out-of-court settlement. The team often consists of one attorney for each party, a mental health professional, a financial consultant, and, when appropriate, a child psychologist.
Typically, the process begins with a meeting where the couple and their respective attorneys discuss the issues related to the divorce. The goal is for the group to act as a team, even though each side is represented by his/her own attorney. The couple is encouraged to lead the discussions, but they may also have private consultations with their attorneys. Collaborative law encourages the couple to work together in a cooperative environment. If one or both of the parties choose to litigate, the attorneys and all other team professionals must withdraw from representation.
Litigation is the final alternative when a couple cannot reach a negotiated agreement on all or some of their issues. Through litigation, the couple asks the court to make decisions they cannot resolve. It is important to consult with an attorney early for legal advice during a divorce. Litigation is a highly adversarial process where the outcome is contingent on complex legal rules and the particular facts of the case. Available court dates are difficult to find in Central Oregon courts. They are often rescheduled ("bumped") several times.