Kitchen Table Divorce
Uncontested divorce (or “Kitchen Table” divorce as it is sometimes called) is often a good fit for clients who have at least some agreement about what the terms of a divorce should be. The term Kitchen Table divorce refers to the parties finding some place they can sit down together (often a kitchen table) and coming up with a plan for how things will look after they are divorced.
Some uncontested divorces in Oregon are eligible for a special process that allows the case to be resolved more simply. In these cases (called Summary Divorces) the parties resolve their case without the need to ever have a hearing or go in front of a judge. There are several requirements cases need to meet to be eligible for this process. The conditions are listed in ORS 107.485, and can be summarized as follows:
- Oregon has jurisdiction over the case (and at least one party has met the Oregon Residency Requirement).
- There are no minor children, or children who are over 18 but could still qualify for child support. Neither party can be pregnant at the time the case is filed.
- The parties have not been married for more than 10 years.
- Neither party has an interest in real property (land).
- Debt incurred during the marriage must be under $15,000.
- The value of all property must be under $30,000.
- The Petitioner (the person filing the paperwork) must waive any interest in spousal support as well as waive the ability to seek some types of temporary relief while the case is pending.
- The Petitioner must swear that there is no other pending case involving the marriage.
In order to qualify for the Summary Divorce process, a case must fit all of these criteria. If a case does not fit one or more of these, Oregon still offers good options for non-contested divorce cases (including filing as co-petitioners), but the case will need to go through the usual Court process.
Some advantages of reaching a settlement
No matter which process you end up using, uncontested divorces can save the parties thousands of dollars in attorney fees, as well as avoiding the anger and frustration that can come with traditional litigation. Some cases will just need to go to trial but if there is a chance of success an uncontested divorce is worth exploring.
The Role of an Attorney in an uncontested Divorce
The role of an attorney assisting a family with an uncontested divorce is different than it would be if the attorney were representing either party. In an uncontested divorce case, the attorney meets with both parties together, and provides information, but does not provide legal advice to either party about the case or what they should do. The attorney can draft or review any pleadings the parties need and will help make sure that the judgment entered in the case lines up with the agreement of the parties.
Both parties will be encouraged to meet with an attorney at any point along the way, and to review the final judgment with an independent attorney before it is signed and submitted to the Court.