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9 Commonly Asked Questions


1. My Spouse and I just separated. I understand this means I am no longer liable for my spouse’s bills, is that right?

No. A separation (i.e. living apart absent a court order) is not a "legal separation." You are still married until a court says you are not. Living apart does not alter your legal obligations as a married couple.

2. My spouse closed all the bank accounts and is moving out right now. What can I do?

Moving Out. No law prevents your spouse from moving out. You may, however, be able to ask the court for child support or spousal support. One of our attorneys can see you about this.

Closing Bank Accounts. The law allows either of you to close a bank account in joint names or in your own name. If you file for divorce or legal separation, the court can order a temporary division of assets pending a final hearing, and this can include bank accounts. Upon filing for divorce a financial restraining order will automatically be entered.


Our attorneys will be happy to discuss these issues with you.


3. When does someone get spousal support?

This is a complicated question. The person who decides if you get spousal support is the judge. Unless your spouse agrees to pay you spousal support, you will need to file a divorce or legal separation action and ask the judge to award you spousal support.

4. Why can't I talk to an attorney before I set up an appointment?

Our attorneys receive many phone calls each day. Due to the volume of clients whom we serve, we have the clients screened by a paralegal in order to ensure that our attorneys can devote their full attention to existing clients who have already retained us.

We are happy to set an initial consultation with you.

5. Do you take any pro bono cases?

We do sometimes take pro bono cases, but we only accept these cases from a branch of the legal aid organization. If you would like to talk to them about having an attorney handle your case at no charge and you are financially qualified for this help, you should call them.

6. What will my case cost? Why can't I get an exact quote for my case?

We never quote exact fees for cases. The reason for this is that it is impossible to tell how much your case will cost. Attorneys charge on an hourly basis. Our attorneys cannot predict how many hours will be spent on any given case in order to quote a fixed fee. In addition, no attorney can tell how much "fighting" the other side will do or how much negotiating will be necessary in a settlement.

When you come into our office, the attorney will give you an estimate concerning your case if you ask for it. He or she will also tell you the amount of money that initially needs to be deposited into our trust account. We use the money from the trust account to pay your bills on a regular basis while we are working on your case.

7. I need someone to look over some documents. How much will this cost?

Our attorneys are available to review documents. Whenever they look over a document prepared by someone else -- such as a separation agreement, divorce judgment, or a prenuptial agreement -- we charge an hourly fee. This is in addition to the costs of the initial interview. If you would like one of our attorneys to review your documents, we ask that you send us the document(s) at the same time as you set up your initial appointment. In that way, the attorney will be able to review the document in advance of the meeting and then give you the results of the review when you come in for your initial appointment.

8. My ex-spouse is not paying child support. What do I do?

Child Support Enforcement Office. Each county’s District Attorney has a department which may assist you with collection of support. Their offices provide free enforcement of court orders for the collection of child support, and will also provide free help to initiate the determination of child support in new cases.

Our Office. Our attorneys are also available to assist in the enforcement of child support. In some child support cases, it is possible to ask the judge for attorney's fees to help reimburse you for the money you spend hiring one of our attorneys to handle the child support case for you. However, it is your obligation to pay the fee before the case has begun.

9. My spouse and I are not getting along. If I leave the house, can my spouse get me for abandonment?

This is not a ground for spousal support. Oregon is a “no-fault” state so moving out should not affect the outcome of the case. However, moving out could affect issues such as child custody or parenting time. It is best to consult an attorney prior to moving out or separating.

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