“I recently hired Don to handle my divorce.  I am very impressed by the level of expertise and service that I received.  He answered my many questions and provided me with helpful advice and guidance.  Stacy McRae, his Legal Assistant, was kind, courteous and always willing to make the process easy for me.  It certainly was a great experience and I would not hesitate to refer my family, friends and clients to Donald Armstrong.”  —Tim T

Why hire a trial lawyer

Many lawyers process divorce papers, but only a few are Family Law attorneys with knowledge of domestic relations law. Even less have substantial courtroom experience.

If you are a young person in a short-term marriage with no children or assets to divide, it may be just fine to hire someone to help you file papers.  But generally, it is always better to hire an experienced litigator because:

  • your divorce will be processed swiftly and accurately
  • you will save money by having routine paperwork handled by an experienced Legal Assistant
  • if your divorce takes an unexpected turn, you will have the full resources of a Family Law firm behind you without having to change lawyers.

Getting early advice

Too often, clients come to me after they have put themselves in a vulnerable position.  Sometimes these situations are reversible, but it may be time consuming and costly.  Here are examples of what I see:

  • Spouses start out agreeing to be fair and amicable to avoid attorney fees. Over time, especially if they separate and begin new relationships, those verbal agreements are broken. The other side may initiate action to take custody of children or possession of the family home.   A spouse without legal representation is vulnerable.
  • A dominant or forceful spouse uses threats, intimidation or misrepresentation to control the weaker spouse.  Where there is an imbalance of power, the weaker spouse needs protection.  I can force disclosure of assets and debts so that you will know truthfully where you stand.
  • A spouse who anticipates filing for divorce may take steps to financially enrich themselves by hiding property, purchasing personal items, hiding assets, canceling insurance, voluntarily decreasing their income to avoid support, or conducting insider sales to friends who agree to sell back following the divorce.
  • A parent may physically move away with minor children
  • A spouse may begin using marital assets to support a lover
  • A parent may voluntarily decrease their reportable income in anticipation of having to pay child support
  • An angry or vindictive spouse may file a Stalking Order or Restraining Order and fabricate allegations of abuse.  An unrepresented person may not know how to defend themselves, or may unintentionally find themselves in violation.  Violation of these orders is a serious offense that can result in jail time, which reflects on future employment.

Who files first?

The person who files first is the “Petitioner,” and the other party is the “Respondent.”  The attorney for the Petitioner has a slight advantage if the case goes to trial because that person shapes the issues of the case and calls witnesses. The Respondent is in a more defensive posture.

Once a divorce petition is filed with the court, there are numerous steps I can take to protect you including:

  • requiring disclosure of hidden assets and debts  (often spouses have no idea of what their true financial condition is)
  • preventing sale or transfer of business holdings
  • requiring drug screening or anger management counseling
  • preventing cancellation of insurance coverage
  • filing of Restraining Orders
  • preventing a parent from moving away with minor children
  • protecting your right to remain in the family home and have access to vehicles
  • obtaining temporary custody and support of minor children
  • awarding temporary spousal maintenance
  • determining fair market valuations so clients know the value of their property and how value has increased
  • utilizing a custody evaluator to evaluate and recommend custody
  • negotiating a temporary Parenting Plan

How judges interpret divorce law

There are 15 Circuit Court judges in Lane County with varied backgrounds and beliefs.  Neither party knows ahead of time which judge will be assigned to their case. Parts of your divorce may be ruled upon by different judges.  Once a ruling is made, it is hard to over-turn it, so you benefit from having consistent legal counsel throughout the entire process.

Judges look for solutions and they appreciate people who are cooperative. Hiding information or attempting to mislead the court is a serious matter.