3 common myths and misconceptions about Oregon divorces

Many divorcing spouses may have misunderstandings about property division, child custody determinations and the availability of post-decree modifications.

Many people, including those who have never been divorced, feel like they are fairly familiar with the basic legal aspects of the process. However, Salem residents who are preparing to separate from their spouses may be surprised to learn that they have fallen victim to common misunderstandings about divorce. To prepare for the separation and settlement process, divorcing spouses should beware of the following common myths and misunderstandings.

1. Property is divided 50-50

As The Huffington Post notes, many people believe that any property considered marital is subject to an even division at the time of divorce. In Oregon, there is a legal presumption that each spouse contributed equally to the acquisition of marital property. If this presumption is proven correct, then an equal division of property is considered appropriate. However, divorcing spouses can rebut this presumption and show that a different division is merited.

In these cases, a family law judge may consider several variables to arrive at an equitable distribution of marital property. The judge may weigh each spouse's contributions to the marriage and future financial liabilities, among other factors. A judge may also take into account any costs involved in selling or transferring marital assets.

2. Gender affects custody decisions

Many people also think that mothers receive preferential treatment during the determination of child custody arrangements. However, in Oregon, there is not a presumption that either spouse is better suited to have custody. Instead, the court may evaluate several variables to identify the best custody arrangement for each child. These factors include:

  • The preference of the child's primary caregiver
  • Each parent's relationship with and interest in the child
  • Any history of abuse between the parents
  • The child's bond with other family members
  • Each parent's ability to help the child maintain a relationship with the other

A judge may also consider the child's preferences and the overall benefits of promoting a continued relationship between the child and each parent.

3. Settlements are easily revisited

CNBC states that many people may finalize their divorce settlements too quickly because they believe they can change them at a later date. Some aspects of a divorce settlement may be formally changed through spousal support, child support or child custody modifications. However, other aspects, such as property division, cannot be revised after the settlement is finalized.

Spouses should understand which aspects of a settlement will be permanent before agreeing to a settlement. Additionally, it's advisable for spouses to review the situations in which modifications are permitted to determine whether they are likely to qualify for modifications.

Avoiding divorce pitfalls

Unfortunately, these misunderstandings, along with other common misconceptions, can easily have negative impacts during divorce. To avoid making harmful decisions based on incorrect information, divorcing spouses should strongly consider consulting with an attorney early on. A divorce attorney can help a spouse better understand his or her rights, duties and options during the divorce process.