"Empowerment through education,
results through advocacy."
The term litigation refers to the processes associated with legal actions and proceedings. Divorce litigation, specifically, refers to legal proceedings in which two parties entrust the final outcome of their marital dissolution to the judicial system because they are unable to reach agreement on terms of a marital settlement. In litigated divorce proceedings each party generally hires their own attorney to represent their interests through negotiation and trial. Accordingly, issues like spousal support, child custody, child support, and property division are argued before the court, a process culminating in a final judgement arrived at by a judge.
Custody disputes are painful and potentially damaging to parents and children alike. While property can be replaced and new love found, nothing can replace your children or your time with them. As children thrive on supportive relationships with both parents, matters of child custody take on special significance, requiring realistic assessment, thoughtful planning and compassionate enforcement.
As an experienced mediator, negotiator and advocate, Sara will craft a parenting plan that will best serve you and your children. While Sara encourages and prefers co-parenting arrangements, she aggressively pursues sole custody for clients should circumstances warrant.
Sometimes a step-parent or other parental figure, generally referred to as a psychological parent, may be awarded custody or visitation rights over the objections of a biological parent.
Cases involving psychological parents hinge on the court's careful consideration of the circumstances in light of the child's needs. Therefore, successful advocacy for a psychological parent will always draw direct connections between the involvement of that parental figure and the welfare of the child, while calling special attention to the potential damage caused by their separation. Of course, the successful defense of a psychological parent claim requires demonstrating a lack of connection or a detriment to the child should a relationship be allowed to continue.
Paternity, one's state of being a father, can be surprisingly complicated. The legal father may or may not be the biological father. In Oregon, a man who is married to a woman when her baby is born is presumed to be the legal father even if he and the mother had not yet met when the child was conceived. Consequently, removing a father from a child’s birth certificate is not as simple as taking a DNA test.
While setting aside paternity can be challenging, limited circumstances allow for the removal of a legal father from a child's birth certificate. Conversely, men who assume the role of father may have custody or visitation rights otherwise reserved for biological parents. With such cases requiring a careful consideration of the facts and a specialized knowledge of the law, paternity cases should only be brought or defended before the court by experienced family law attorneys.
No one enters a marriage thinking they will end up in divorce court. Divorce is painful, expensive and potentially humiliating. Therefore, I generally encourage my clients to end this significant relationship with as much grace and dignity as possible, especially if children are involved.
This said, my principle responsibility remains the welfare of my clients. Accordingly, I will always be ready to take an aggressive stance when protecting your assets and ensuring your current and future security. I will not allow the real efforts you put into the prosperity of your family to be diminished or disregarded by a self-interested opposing party.
The court may award temporary spousal support upon separation and either permanent or fixed-period support upon divorce. The type, amount and duration of support is determined by the unique facts of each case. Transitional, compensatory and maintenance support orders are issued in an effort to create an equitable division of financial comfort according to each parties’ contributions during the marriage and earning ability following dissolution. Keep in mind that Oregon law states that non-economic contributions, such as home-making, have the same dollar value as traditional employment.
Transitional support helps a spouse return to self-sufficiency. Ordered for a limited period of time, this may include financial assistance for job training or for the completion of a college degree.
Compensatory support is designed to repay a spouse whose efforts made the other spouse’s career possible. For example, if you financially supported your spouse through medical school you may have a claim for a portion of his or her future earnings.
Maintenance support, generally awarded indefinitely or permanently, is designed to maintain a standard of living for a spouse who will never achieve the same earning power as another spouse, whether due to an established division of responsibilities within the marriage, or as a result of debilitating circumstances such as accident or illness.
Because spousal support orders have a direct impact on your quality of life long after divorce, you will need either an aggressive attorney prepared to litigate on your behalf or an experienced mediator equipped to help you both negotiate equitable solutions. Please, do not attempt to negotiate these issues on your own, regardless of how reasonable your spouse appears to be at present. Quite simply, the stakes are too high to rely on anything less than expert advocacy and guidance.