Filing for divorce can be incredibly painful, particularly if children involved. In Oregon, divorce and custody proceedings are handled through the family division of the circuit courts. If you are filing for custody along with your divorce, you can complete a packet for divorcing parents with children. Oregon also provides forms for parenting time enforcement, parenting plan changes and for unmarried parents.
Go to the circuit court in the county in which you reside. Ask the clerk for the family law forms that apply to your situation. There are forms for divorcing parents with children, for unmarried parents with children, modifications of previous custody judgments and enforcement of parenting time and child support. You can also download the forms on Oregon's Judicial Department website. If you are still unsure of which form to complete, an online document service can help you.
Complete the forms and attach a parenting plan. Oregon law requires that all petitions for child custody or parenting time include a parenting plan. The state provides sample parenting plan worksheets that parents can fill out, or you can attach your own parenting plan. Parents of very young children should note that Oregon does not recommend overnight visitation with the noncustodial parent for children under age 1.
File the petition with the clerk and pay the filing fee. You must also have the other party served with the petition. For an extra fee, the clerk can have the sheriff serve the other party with the petition, or you can have a private process server serve them. Your ex will have 30 days to respond to your petition.
Attend the preliminary hearing. The judge will likely establish a discovery schedule, ask about witnesses and determine the nature of the conflict between the parties at this hearing. She may also appoint a guardian ad litem -- an expert, usually an attorney -- who can investigate the case and file motions on the child's behalf.
Tips & Warnings
Oregon uses a "best interests of the child" standard in determining child custody, and takes into account the bonds between the child and each parent, the parenting competence of each parent and the quality of the child's home environment.
Family law is highly complex. If you and your ex disagree about substantive matters in your case, a family law attorney can represent your interests.
References & Resources
- Oregon State Legislature: Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure
- Oregon Courts: Optional Statewide Family Law Forms
- Oregon Courts: Basic Parenting Plan Guide
- The Art and Science of Child Custody Evaluations; Jonathan W. Gould and David A. Martindale
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