We are betting you have several burning questions you want answered, which is why we created this page. Here you’ll find simple and straightforward answers to the questions that really matter to you right now.

FAMILY LAW

1. What is a “no-fault” divorce?

Oregon has “no-fault” divorce, which is a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences — i.e., there is no reasonable chance to save the marriage. When both parties agree on property and debt division and child custody and child support matters, the divorce can be finalized as soon after the case is filed. In the case of divorce disagreements, an attorney from Goodfellow & Cottle can assist.   

2. What factors does the court consider to divide marital property in Oregon? 

In Oregon, assets and debts acquired during a marriage, known as marital property, are divided equitably by the two parties’ agreement or by a court.  Property can also include retirement acocounts or gifts received prior to or during the marriage.  Oregon’s laws presume the couple made equal contributions in acquiring property, unless proven otherwise. Meeting with a divorce attorney at Goodfellow & Cottle can save a divorcing couple significant time and money in determining assets, property values and other details in divorce proceedings.      

3. Are divorce spouses entitled to part of the stock given to the other spouse as a gift during a marriage?              

If the stock transferred to a spouse due to his or her compensation for working for a company, a divorce party may be entitled to a portion of the stock in the division of property. If a spouse received stock as a gift, it may be his or her separate property. In Oregon, gifts are considered separate, non-marital property and are generally not subject to division in a divorce. 

4. How do Oregon divorce laws apply to alimony (spousal support)?

Oregon court‘s can order payment of alimony, officially known as “spousal support,” from one spouse to the other depending on various circumstances and considerations during the marriage. There are three basic types of spousal support that may be granted: 

  • Transitional spousal support provides a means by which a recipient can gain education or vocational training.  
  • Compensatory spousal support is awarded when one spouse made a significant financial or other contribution to the other spouse that allowed him or her to gain education or vocational skills or develop a career.
  • Spousal maintenance may be awarded as a contribution by one spouse to the support of the other for either a set or an indefinite period. The court considers factors such as length of the marriage, age of the spouses, standard of living, earning capacity and needs and resources of each spouse.  

5. How are savings accounts divided during divorce proceedings? 

In Oregon, a person's separate property owned before marriage remains that person's property after a divorce as long as it has not been commingled — combined with marital property. Any money put into a joint account during the marriage will most likely be considered marital property. If a spouse properly can identify the funds and trace their movements back and forth through the account, monies should remain separate property and be returned when the divorce becomes official. When money is withdrawn to pay mutual expenses, however, the division becomes very difficult and the account may wind up marital property. 

6. How do divorced parties handle a potential IRS inquiry about tax returns filed by a former spouse while still married?

Federal tax law includes “innocent spouse” relief and Oregon state laws follow federal law in this case. This means that if a taxpayer files a joint tax return but divorces, legally separates or lives apart from a spouse for one year, the taxpayer may limit or even avoid liability if he or she can prove that the other spouse caused the tax problems. An “innocent spouse” must not have had any “actual knowledge” of the former spouse's tax violations. A family law attorney from Goodfellow & Cottle can help untangle these situations and, if necessary, bring in a tax specialist to consult on the case.   

7. Can a divorced party appeal a property division court ruling in Oregon?

All states have a '”statute of limitations” — a period after the finalization of the divorce during which a party may file a notice of appeal to an “unjust” decision. However, the decision is not considered unjust simply because one party does not approve. In Oregon, the aggrieved former spouse must file a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals and send a copy of the notice to the trial court and to the former spouse and the former spouse’s attorney, within 30 days from the date the trial court issued divorce judgment.

8. Can a custodial parent deny parenting time under Oregon state law?

No. Parenting time, which dictates when the child will be in the care of each parent, is part of the custody order mandated by the courts. A parent can ask for a change in a parenting time schedule without having to show a substantial change in circumstances, but he or she would have to show that a different parenting time schedule is in the best interests of the child. In all custody proceedings, it is advisable to have an attorney advocate, as most involve complex circumstances and considerations. 

9. Can same-sex partners in Oregon petition for parenting time rights with a child born during his or her relationship?

Legal same-sex registered domestic partnerships have existed in Oregon since February 2008, and generally, all Oregon state laws that apply to traditional divorce apply to the dissolution of same-sex registered domestic partnerships and custody matters.    

PERSONAL INJURY

1. What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice under Oregon state law? 

2 years. If the malpractice results in death, the statute of limitations is increased to 3 years. Under certain circumstances, including incapacity or malpractice involving a minor, a limited amount of additional time to file a lawsuit is available.

2. Where should my lawsuit be filed?

Where the malpractice occurred or where the professional does business. 

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3. What is this going to cost me?

We are committed to providing clients with a no-stress, no-hassle intake process and to delivering affordable justice to all injury victims. Consequently, every prospective client is entitled to a free initial consultation with an expert from our firm without any kind of charge or obligation.  We also work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay until you win. 

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4. Do I Have a Legal Claim?

The first thing that many individuals wonder when they are hurt in an accident is if they have a legal claim.  It is often difficult to parse through the specifics of a case to understand who might be at fault and whether a third-party acted inappropriately such that they will be held accountable, in full or in part, for the harm caused.  At our consultation, we will discuss the process in detail.  In most cases, we will be able to tell you if you have a valid claim by the end of our initial meeting.

5. Can I Handle The Case on My Own, Or Do I Need an Attorney?

Following an accident it is understandable for individuals to want to settle the matter quickly and move on with their lives as soon as possible.  As a result, some may be tempted to try to take care of all issues—including legal issues—without getting professional representation.  It is crucial to understand the pitfalls of trying to go it alone. 

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6. Should I Accept the Insurance Company Settlement?

It cannot be reiterated enough that insurance companies are in the business of minimizing payouts to maximize company profits.  No matter how nice the insurance adjuster seems or how many details they give you regarding your compensation, the adjuster’s goal is to pay you as little as possible.  In fact, the adjuster is usually rewarded for resolving claims for as little as possible and as quickly as possible.

It is impossible to make generalizations about the value of any case without knowing the details of the harm caused and the manner it was caused.  One of the most important jobs that your attorney will conduct is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to detailing all possible losses that will translate into a legal recovery.  The law allows recovery for a wide range of situations, many of which may not be readily apparent to the injured party.  This includes past medical bills, future medical and rehabilitation costs, therapy, lost past wages, lost future income, pain and suffering and more.

When a motor vehicle accident occurs it is easy to become disoriented, shaken, and confused.  However, in the aftermath of an accident it is important to obtain crucial information.  A helpful way to remind yourself what to do after a car accident is to keep a checklist of phone numbers to call and questions to ask along with your insurance information in your glove compartment or center console.  

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7. How do I handle insurance adjusters?

When accidents occur, it is common for an insurance company to ask you to make a recorded statement with an insurance adjuster. It is never wise to do so without having consulted your attorney first. If you decide to do so without an attorney’s advice, you should keep certain facts in mind.

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CRIMINAL LAW

1. What should I expect from a criminal defense attorney?

You should expect to be informed about the charge(s) against you and the possible defenses. No attorney can guarantee the outcome of your case. However, the experienced attorney’s at Goodfellow & Cottle will work to ensure that you understand the process and can make an informed decision about your options. 

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2. A police officer stopped me and asked questions, but did not read me my Miranda rights. Is this legal?

Any officer has the right to ask you questions and you have the right to politely decline to answer. If the officer asks to see your driver’s license or proof of insurance, you may not refuse to provide those and then ‘plead the fifth,’ meaning you want to invoke your Fifth Amendment rights and not cooperate. When you sign the forms for accepting a driver’s license, you are giving the police permission to ask you for these documents upon request and you are acknowledging that you will cooperate when asked.

If an officer plans to use your statements as evidence in a trial, they must read you Miranda Rights. Often police stop and ask questions, which you can decline to answer. However, be aware that you may still be cited if an officer has probable cause to be believe you committed a crime. 

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3. I was asked to go to the police station for questioning; Do I have to go? 

You can politely refuse to go to the police station and/or to answer questions. If you decline, and the police have probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime, they may get a warrant for your arrest. It is highly suggested that before you go to a police station you hire an experienced attorney to be present with you, if possible.

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4. What if I was just charged with a misdemeanor charge. Can I just plead guilty?

You can, but an experienced attorney knows options that may be available to you, that you might not be aware of. A conviction on a misdemeanor can have serious consequences. For example, you may have to report a conviction on all future job applications, rental applications and school applications.

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5. Can I go to jail if I am charged with a misdemeanor?

Yes. If you are charged with a misdemeanor you can be sentenced to jail time, up to one year. It will depend on many different factors, such as prior record and the charged offense. 

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6. If I am charged with damaging property or theft will I have to pay restitution?    

Maybe. If you do not agree to the amount sought by the prosecutor, they will file a motion for restitution. You are entitled to a hearing where the prosecutor must present evidence to prove the amount sought. 

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7. What if I do not complete the terms of my probation?

The prosecuting attorney can file a motion for probation violation. A warrant for your arrest will likely be issued. If you plead, or admit to a probation violation, any part of your sentence that was suspended can be imposed, including jail time and suspended fines.

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