Frequently Asked Questions
A good place to start is our excellent "You and Your Divorce Lawyer" handout, which you can download as a PDF HERE.
Question: What type of law does Gevurtz Menashe practice?
Answer: Gevurtz Menashe prides itself on having the best family law lawyers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. For a comprehensive listing of all practice areas, please click here. Additionally, if you can't find a practice area that fits your concern, call 503-227-1515 or 360-823-0410 and ask to speak to one of our legal assistants for help.
Question: How does Gevurtz Menashe differ from other family law firms?
Answer: We were the first firm in the Northwest to practice exclusively family law. We have 19 lawyers with over 300 years of combined family law experience. We believe that we have the best lawyers with a wide range of experience levels and rates, who can handle the most simple or complicated matters within the area of family law.
Question: How do I contact a lawyer at Gevurtz Menashe?
Answer: The first step is to set up an initial consultation. Contact Gevurtz Menashe through our website or by calling 503-227-1515 and speaking with a legal assistant. The legal assistant will take your information and match you with the best attorney in our office to fit your needs.
Question: What is an initial consultation?
Answer: The purpose of the initial consultation is for you to know where you stand with regard to your legal matter, and what your options are, so that you can make the best possible choices.
Question: What information should I bring to my initial consultation?
Answer: Most importantly, you should bring your questions or concerns. While there is no requirement that you bring additional information or documents with you, they can be helpful during the consultation. The legal assistant you speak with to set up your initial consultation will let you know if there are any specific documents you might bring with you.
Question: What should I expect from my attorney?
Answer: Aside from having the knowledge necessary for resolving your particular case, the most important consideration in selecting a lawyer is that it be someone with whom you feel comfortable. A divorce is a difficult experience for everyone, and good communication between lawyer and client is essential. You should feel that the lawyer is someone you can talk to about your case and who can explain the law to you in a way that you understand. While no lawyer can tell you how a divorce will come out or how much it will cost, you and your lawyer will need to talk about these issues in a way that both find satisfactory.
Question: Can I represent myself?
Answer: Yes, but you should always consult with a lawyer and assess your rights and options before making this decision. Your situation may be more complicated than you realize. This is particularly so if you have real property, retirement accounts, a pension, stock options, business interest, or children. In addition, not understanding the law now may result in unintended legal consequences later. Please also remember that what friends, family, or self-help resources might tell you may not apply to the specifics of your situation.
Question: Why is it important to consult a lawyer in my family law matter?
Answer: Before initiating a family law matter, attending mediation or making any decisions on settlement, it is important to consult with a lawyer so you have realistic expectations of how a court might address your situation. It is also important to know your legal options. You should never sign any agreement presented by an opposing party or attorney, including agreements in mediation, without consulting with your own lawyer first.
Question: What is mediation?
Answer: Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It can be a very effective tool in a family law matter. The parties, either with or without attorneys, meet with a mediator and attempt to resolve the issues between them without going to court. Not all mediators are equally skillful. We are happy to be a resource for you in a consultation by providing you with a list of mediation resources and recommendations.
Question: Can I attend mediation without a lawyer?
Answer: Yes. It is imperative that you consult with a lawyer before your mediation. This will help you know what to expect and give you some idea of how a mediated result might differ from going to court. In some cases, based on the complexities of the case or the dynamics of the parties involved, mediation may produce a faster and better result if attorneys attend the mediation too.
Question: How long does it take for a dissolution of marriage to be final?
Answer: In Oregon, there is no waiting period. In Washington, a divorce can not be finalized until at least 90 days after a request for a divorce is filed with the court. The cooperation of the parties and their attorneys can greatly affect the time that it takes for a matter to be resolved. The process may be delayed if the matter is unusually complex or contentious. Our goal is to finish cases as quickly as possible given the particular circumstances.
Question: How will the court award custody of our children?
Answer: In Oregon, the court will award "legal custody" to only one of the parties,unless there is an agreement to have "joint" legal custody. Legal custody in the family law context means major decision making. It is a separate issue from "parenting time," which is how much time each parent has with the children and under what circumstances. In Washington, there is no designation of "legal custody." Decision making for children is always presumed to be shared by both parents unless there are special circumstances. The distinction between custody and parenting time, however, still applies.
Question: How does the court determine the parenting plan for my child/children?
Answer: In arriving at a parenting plan the court considers the best interests of the child based on the child's age and developmental needs as well as each party's role and involvement in parenting the child. Some counties have local rules that address parenting plans, but the court can ignore or modify those plans based on the particular circumstances of your case.
Question: How is child support calculated?
Answer: Oregon and Washington have established basic guidelines to determine child support.
The Oregon Child Support Calculator can be viewed here. This calculator should be used as an estimate. Several factors go into the child support calculation, including an accurate calculation of each party's gross income, child care costs, the amount of parenting time each parent has with the children, the costs of health insurance for the children and information about who provides the child's health insurance. The result from a child support calculation may not accurately reflect what a court would determine to be the appropriate amount of support if all the facts of a case were made known. Even if an initial child support calculation is included in an administrative order proposed by the state, there may be additional facts that would change the child support amount if they were properly presented or considered.
The Oregon Child Support Calculator can be viewed at https://justice.oregon.gov/guidelines.
Question: How is spousal support or maintenance (alimony) calculated?
Answer: There is no set formula for spousal support or maintenance in either Oregon or Washington. The amount of support can be based on a multitude of factors, including the length of the marriage, the parties' ages and education, differences in the parties' incomes and the actual need for support. Our attorneys can give you realistic ideas of the range of support to expect from our experience in trying these matters in court. Our attorneys share information and often work collaboratively with other attorneys in our office. This can provide you the benefit of input from some of our most senior attorneys, no matter who represents you at Gevurtz Menashe.
Question: How will the court divide my property?
Answer: The division of property can be affected by many factors. Some of these factors include when the property was acquired (before or during the marriage), whether the property was a gift or resulted from an inheritance, whether the property was kept separate or segregated from the other party during the marriage (i.e., kept in one spouse's name and not commingled with income or other assets earned or acquired during the marriage) and whether the parties entered in to a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Because Washington is a community property state, the date of separation generally determines the date on which assets and liabilities are valued. In Oregon, property is usually valued as of the date of settlement or trial.
The division of property is not always as you might initially expect. You should consult with an attorney before making any final decisions regarding property division, including distributions of property before filing a legal action or while your case is pending.