The popular conception of divorce looks a lot like what you see on TV. Many people assume that all divorces are combative, nasty, and involve long, drawn-out court battles. Luckily for anyone thinking about ending their marriage, this doesn’t have to be the case.
In fact, if you and your spouse are still on reasonably good terms, you may not need to go to court at all. Instead, you can pursue an amicable divorce outside of the courtroom. Here’s what you need to know about amicable divorces, how they work, and what you should expect from the process.
What Amicable Divorce Is (and Isn’t)
Amicable divorces occur when spouses don’t choose to litigate their split. Instead, they work together with their legal counsel to create a divorce settlement agreement independently. If you pick this solution, you and your spouse will negotiate matters such as:
- How to divide your assets and debts
- Whether either of you will receive spousal support (alimony)
- If you have children, who will receive custody and child support
By negotiating the matters out of court, you can reach compromises that satisfy both of you. You have more control over the outcome, and there’s less risk of losing something you truly value.
It’s important to note that amicable divorces don’t require you and your soon-to-be-ex to be best friends. You can pursue this type of split even with hurt feelings or long-standing arguments. As long as both of you can be professional and negotiate the details of your separation, you can avoid going to court, minimizing the time, effort, and cost involved in getting divorced.
However, if your spouse is unwilling to negotiate for whatever reason, this may not be an option. Amicable divorces require both parties to agree on all matters involved in the settlement. If you reach a stalemate arguing about something like child custody or ownership of the family home, you may need to go to court to litigate that issue.
How Does Amicable Divorce Work?
So, how do you actually start an amicable divorce in Oregon? While the process isn’t as complicated as going to court, it still requires careful preparation. We’ve broken down the amicable divorce process step by step so you can learn what to expect.
1. Agree to Work Together With Your Spouse
If you want to keep your divorce out of the courtroom, your spouse has to agree. Either partner can request to have their divorce heard by a judge, and the other party cannot prevent it. You both need to consent to handle your divorce settlement outside of court and to negotiate fairly and in good faith for the process to be successful.
This is an excellent time to identify whether an amicable divorce is the right choice for your split. If you and your spouse can’t agree to negotiate to reduce the process’s demands, litigation is likely inevitable.
2. Find Independent Legal Counsel
It’s considered best practice for both spouses in any divorce to retain independent lawyers. This remains true in amicable divorces. If you both have your own attorneys, there is much less risk that your divorce settlement can be overturned due to insufficient legal counsel.
Your attorneys will guide you throughout the process. They’ll help you understand your rights under Oregon law, suggest compromises or negotiation tactics to move the process forward, and ensure that your eventual settlement is legally binding.
3. Choose How to Reach a Settlement
There are two main ways you can develop a divorce settlement agreement without going to court. You can work directly with your partner to hash out the terms for your settlement, or you can work with a mediator.
If you remain on genuinely good terms, you may be able to handle the process with the support of your attorneys alone. However, mediation may be the better option if you’re concerned about emotions running high. In mediation, a neutral third-party mediator guides negotiation meetings between you, your spouse, and your attorneys to keep things on track and prevent emotional outbursts from derailing the proceedings. Your attorney can help you decide which solution better fits your situation.
Once you’ve decided how to develop your settlement, it’s time to begin the negotiations. In most cases, you’ll schedule multiple meetings to discuss your settlement. Each of these meetings will address one aspect of your split. For example, one session may cover just child custody and support, another covers the division of retirement assets, and a third is dedicated to how you’ll split the home and liquid assets. Breaking up these meetings allows you to consult with your attorney and strategize more effectively.
Always attend these meetings in good faith and with the intention of reaching a fair compromise. Doing otherwise defeats the purpose of an amicable split and may result in you having to litigate the matter anyway.
5. File Your Settlement Agreement
Once you and your spouse reach an agreement, it’s time to file it with the court. Your attorneys will help you draft your divorce settlement agreement and ensure that the judge will find it acceptable. You’ll submit the settlement to your local county court, which will approve and finalize it. Both of you will then be bound by that settlement just like you would be by a judge-issued divorce decree.
End Your Marriage Amicably With Assistance From Regele Law, LLC
Amicable divorces are less stressful, less time-consuming, and more likely to leave everyone satisfied with the outcome. If you and your spouse are still civil, this may be the best solution for dissolving your marriage.
If you’re considering an amicable divorce in Salem, Oregon, the experienced divorce attorneys at Regele Law, LLC are available to help. We are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the best possible outcomes from their divorces. Schedule your consultation today to learn how our attorneys will guide you through the amicable divorce process today.