Why You Shouldn’t File Your Own Divorce

Can you handle your own divorce? Maybe. Was your marriage short, with no children or assets? Do you have plenty of free time to look up things in a legal library, find out how and where to get the forms you need, and go to court? In this case, you might be able to file for divorce yourself.

But in most circumstances, filing for divorce is messy, complicated, and fraught with emotion. You don’t need the added stress of trying to get all the paperwork right. Here are 10 times you definitely need a divorce attorney to help you file for divorce:

  1. filing for divorceYou have a child under 18
  2. Your marriage lasted longer than a year or two
  3. You’re already arguing about how to split things up
  4. Child, domestic, drug, or alcohol abuse is a factor
  5. You think your spouse is hiding assets from you
  6. You’re in a same-sex marriage
  7. You and your spouse own a business together
  8. One of you is bankrupt, or together you have more than $15,000 in debt
  9. One of you is in the military
  10. Together, your assets total $30,000 or more (house, car, etc.)

DIY Divorce Might Actually Cost You More

People consider DIY divorce to save money, but it can actually cost you more if you make a mistake. Do you want to risk messing up your child’s financial well-being, or your taxes, for the next decade? If your divorce isn’t extremely straightforward, a unhappy couple after fightdivorce lawyer will be an invaluable help. You cannot possibly know every consequence of every action taken in a divorce, but this is what we are trained to think about.

The truth is, there are a lot of forms to fill out, and they’re confusing. This isn’t something simple like buying a car. If you make an error or miscalculate something, it could have unintended financial consequences, whether it’s paying too much to your ex for spousal or child support or not getting your fair share of property. It could even have more serious consequences, like giving you less quality time with your children than you otherwise would have gotten. Whatever your final agreements are, you’ll be legally bound to carry them out — even if you find down the road that they aren’t fair. Have you considered absolutely everything, including who will pay for your two-year-old’s college, and how retirement funds factor in?

Mistakes mean you’ll have to go back to court and invest more time and money in this process. A divorce lawyer will ensure you get it right the first time.

How a Divorce Lawyer Helps

Although this may be your first divorce and everything is new and overwhelming, this is far from our first divorce case. The attorneys at Holtey Law in Portland practice family law exclusively and have handled hundreds of divorce cases over the years. We’re experts at helping our clients through this process. We know the latest developments in divorce law, and we know what to expect from the court system, particularly in the tri-county area. We often work with mediators and other professionals to help our clients resolve their disputes amicably, but we are not afraid to take a case to trial if the situation calls for it.

Let Us Help You

You shouldn’t have to go through one of life’s hardest experiences alone. We want to help you get through your divorce with your dignity and finances intact. Contact us today to get help filing your divorce.

Call 503-224-9878 or email nch@holteylaw.com

How Child Support is Calculated in Oregon

Child support may be awarded in divorce cases and custody/parenting time cases involving unmarried parents.  Children under the age of 18 may be entitled to child support unless they are married, emancipated, or have become self-supporting.  Additionally, children over the age of 18 through their 21st birthday may be entitled to child support if they qualify as a “child attending school.”

brother sister blowing bubbles

Oregon Child Support Guideline Calculator

Child support in Oregon is determined by the Oregon Child Support Guidelines.  Here is a link to the guideline calculator.  The calculator provides an estimate as to what parent will pay child support and in what amount.  The calculation is not a guarantee of the amount of child support that will be awarded in your case.  The administrative law judge or court has the final decision making authority to determine the appropriate amount of child support in your case.

1. Gross Monthly Income

Income is one of the most important factors that influences the amount of child support awarded.  Typically, the parents are able to agree on the amount of gross monthly income attributable to a party after exchange of financial documents.  Other times, determining income is not straightforward, such as when a parent is self-employed, recently unemployed, or working less than full-time.  In these types of cases it is important to seek experienced legal advice.

What if a parent is unemployed or working less than full-time?  In most cases, the court will impute a parent with full time minimum wage in the state in which the parent resides.  There are exceptions to this general rule such as when a parent is unable to work full-time due to a verified disability.

Court ordered spousal support paid or received is figured into the income portion of the calculation.  So is the amount a parent pays in union dues.

2. Children – Overnights

For children under the age of 18 and 18-year old children attending high school and living with a parent, the calculator will take into consideration the average annual overnights the children spend with each parent.  If you have questions about calculating the average number of overnights, you may find the Parenting Time Calculator helpful.  You might also want to read Holtey Law’s past blog post on Legal Custody, Physical Custody and Parenting Time.

mother daughter swinging park3. Children – Child Care Costs

In order to run the calculation you will also need to know the amount each parent pays for work related child care for children under the age of 13 or disabled i.e. costs you and/or the other parent are incurring in order to work , look for work, or training or education necessary to obtain a job.  Each county has a maximum claimable amount.  For more information on your county click here.

4. Children – Social Security or Veterans’ Benefits Paid to a Child

If a child receives social security or veterans’ benefits, this too must be included in the child support calculation.

5. Children – Non-joint Child

A non-joint child is a child born or adopted from another relationship.  To claim this deduction the non-joint child must reside in the parent’s household or the parent must be ordered to pay ongoing support for the non-joint child. A stepchild only qualifies a parent for a non-joint child deduction if the parent is ordered to pay ongoing support for the stepchild.

6. Healthcare Coverage – Parent

The child support calculation will deduct the amount each party pays for your own health insurance coverage from your gross monthly income.  If you are unsure what the monthly cost of your individual coverage is contact your HR representative or health plan in order to determine the amount you pay for your individual coverage.  If you are not sure what the other party pays – you will need to request this information from him or her directly.

mother daughter outside

Photo: Paula Ferrari

7. Healthcare Coverage – Children

If one or both parents provide the children with health insurance coverage you must indicate so on the calculation and the amount each pays for such coverage.  Again, you may need to do some research to determine the amount paid for this portion of the coverage.

If neither party is providing the children with health insurance coverage, you may be ordered to do so. If neither of you has access to health insurance for your children, then the court may order a certain monthly amount of cash medical support. Cash medical support is the additional amount a parent is ordered to pay to help for the cost of health care coverage and uninsured medical expenses of the child.

8. Departing Child Support

Possible reasons for departing from the Oregon child support guidelines (either up or down) include but are not limited to the following:

    • The special hardships of a parent, such as medical circumstances and extraordinary travel costs related to the exercise of parenting time;
    • The special needs of the child;
    • Tax consequences; and
    • The income of a spouse or domestic partner.
If you have questions about child support, do not hesitate to talk to a lawyer at Holtey Law by contacting us directly 503-224-9878 or contact us here.

Children and Divorce: 8 Ways to Help Kids Cope

Divorce is painful enough without kids in the picture. When kids are in the picture, it can get even more complicated.  Here’s your guide to helping your kids cope.

children and divorceWhen you’re feeling defensive, angry, and hurt, it’s tempting to use your children as messengers: asking them for information about your spouse, making them relay information, and pitting them against the other parent, especially if custody has not yet been decided.

Don’t feel guilty about these inclinations–they’re completely natural–but don’t act on them, either. Your child is already upset, confused, and worried about the future. In some (heartbreaking) cases, they are worried that they somehow caused their parents to split.  Try to be empathetic instead of spiteful. You don’t have to pretend everything is okay, but limit what you say about the divorce to honest, age-appropriate information that your kids need to know.  Children instinctively know that they are half mom and half dad–when you put down the other parent, you are indirectly putting your child down as well.

1. Stay Involved

Divorce can be scary for children. They wonder whether you still love them and whether you’ll still be a part of their lives. It’s absolutely vital that you don’t disappear on them. You may want to retreat into solitude, which has its time and place, but don’t skip the school play or parent-teacher conferences just to avoid your soon-to-be-ex. Disappearing will only reinforce your children’s fears. In the same vein, don’t pout or withdraw when your children leave to be with their other parent. It’s hard, but try to stay positive and encourage your child to continue a relationship with both parents.

2. No Bad-Mouthing

Talk to your spouse beforehand about what to tell your kids about the divorce. Agree on how to describe the situation. If possible, talk to your child together, and speak respectfully of each other. Avoid blaming your spouse, even if infidelity occurred. Huffington Post challenges, “Set a goal to share one positive thing a day about their other parent. It can be difficult, but it can be done.”  Make it clear that your child did nothing to contribute to your decision to divorce.

All your children really need to know is that you and your spouse have decided to part ways, but that does not affect your love for your children, and you’ll still be there for them. Get your anger out with a professional therapist, divorce support group, or trusted friend, not your son or daughter.

3. Try Mediation

Mediation can be a helpful and peaceful way to come to an agreement on issues like parenting and custody. Many counties have mandatory mediation for these issues if you and your spouse disagree. If you don’t want the court to determine your parenting plan, you and your spouse will need to create one.  The standard for creating a parenting plan is keeping the best interests of the children in mind. This varies a lot based on the child’s age, schedule, relationship with parents, and personal needs.  During a divorce, children generally do not have a say in the parenting plan or who has custody of them. In some cases, however, it may be appropriate to appoint an attorney for your child so they can have a say in custody and parenting time decisions.

4. Take Care of Yourself

Being a good parent starts with self-care. Even though your life has been turned upside down, do your best to get enough sleep, eat healthy, get exercise, and stay connected with friends and family. divorce-self-care-childrenDon’t forget to pamper yourself, pursue hobbies you love, and simply relax.  If your children see that you are taking care of yourself, even in this difficult time, they will learn to take care of themselves, too.

Research shows that talking about ourselves makes us feel better–so enlist a social worker or professional counselor to get all of your negative feelings out in a safe place. Or keep a journal. Most of all, be patient and gentle with yourself; remember that healing takes time.  It is not a bad idea to consider therapy for your child as well, as they may need someone to talk to about the whirlwind of feelings they are experiencing.

5. Be an Emotional Role Model

A divorce proceeding is a new and stressful event for a child. They are constantly looking to their parents to see how they should be reacting to all of these uncertain events. If you blow up at a text message that your spouse sent you or cry every night, children will take these cues and learn that this is how they should be reacting, too. It is important to be calm and contemplative in response to emotional triggers during divorce. This doesn’t mean you need to turn off your emotions completely–it just means that you must evaluate how your response to a trigger will affect your child.  Saying, “Your father sent me a message that upset me a little bit, but I’ll be okay,” is much better for your child’s adjustment than yelling, crying, and blaming. In the long run, such a response will be better for you, too.

6. Provide Structure and Clarity

During a divorce, kids need structure and routine even more than usual. Give them a schedule so they know what to expect as much as possible, and stick to normal bedtimes and curfews. Explain who will pick them up from school, who’ll take them to activities, and where they’ll spend the next holiday. Even if you don’t have all the details worked out yet, the knowledge you do have will make them feel safer and more prepared. Just make sure you keep information blame-free.

Talk to your spouse about how to maintain consistency in your two households. You may want to bend the rules for your children because divorce is stressful on all of you, but your kids actually need boundaries more than ever to make them feel safe.

7. Enjoy Time with Your Child

children-divorce-playingAs much as possible, have fun with your children, rather than using them as your therapist or stewing in negative feelings. Keep doing things they love. Play and goof around. Hug your child and say “I love you” often. Reassure younger children that even though you and your spouse are divorcing, that doesn’t change your relationship with your kids, and the divorce was not their fault. Children need to hear this over and over!

When your kids act upset, ask them how they’re feeling about the divorce, listen, and create a space for honest, open discussion. Acknowledge their emotions and tell them you understand, even though you can’t necessarily fix their sadness. This will foster trust and help you maintain a good relationship moving forward.

8. Cooperate with Your Divorce Attorney

A long, drawn-out custody battle can emotionally scar your children. Rather than nitpicking, try to cooperate during arbitration or mediation so you and your children can get on with your lives. As Parents magazine attests, “Research has found that the most poorly adjusted kids of divorce are those exposed to ongoing parental battles.” In other words, such a battle can leave children feeling insecure and makes them more prone to difficulties such as depression and anxiety later in life.  Being civil with your spouse and refusing to insult him or her in front of your kids is one of the best things you can do for them.

Are you going through a divorce with children? The attorneys at Holtey Law specialize in all areas of family law, including child custody and parenting time. We have the expertise and empathy that can help you through this difficult time.

Contact Portland’s best divorce attorneys today — call us at 503-224-9878 or use our contact form.

Photos: Davide Cassanello, Brandy, Phalinn Ooi