Dissolution of Marriage
Child Custody
Support Modifications

When you are in need of a family law attorney, you can count on a legal professional to provide you with the precise legal guidance that you need. David C. Clarke, Attorney at Law, practices in the field of family law, and understands how difficult legal matters can get for every party involved when the issues stems from a marital, child custody, or other family law problem. Mr. Clarke is here to provide you with the objective legal counsel that you can count on in your time of need.

He understands how difficult divorces can be, and that the end of a long, significant relationship can be life altering. Although it may be the last thing that you want to think about, having an experienced lawyer on your side is very important in a time like this. Mr. Clarke is a compassionate and understanding counselor, and he will listen to all of your concerns and make it his goal to provide you with the outcome that you want.

Mr. Clarke handles a variety of cases that fall under the umbrella of family law, including divorce (a.k.a. dissolution), custody and support, parenting time, prenuptial agreements, restraining orders, and domestic violence issues.

Whether you live in or near Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, or Lake Oswego, David C. Clarke, Attorney at Law, will provide you with the legal representation that you need. Call today to schedule your initial consultation with Mr. Clarke.

Family law deals with divorce as one of the primary issues but includes others as well. For example, divorce, custody and support modifications, restraining orders, and prenuptial agreements all are dealt with at my law offices. Adoptions are rare enough that most general practitioners don’t do enough work in that area to maintain competence, therefore, adoptions are often handled by an attorney who specializes in that area. Generally, Oregon circuit courts have a distinct family law court which handle famiy law matters separate from other civil matters.

If you have been served with a summons on a family law issue, it is especially important that you contact Mr. Clarke immediately so that a timely response can be file. A summons means that a petition has been filed with the court and a legal process has begun that could result in the loss of your rights and property. You need to act immediately.

Dissolution of marriage

People don’t like change and we don’t like to see things end, although we know all things do come to an end. The end of a significant personal relationship through divorce is particularly stressful. Enough said – you are likely there now and know what I am talking about. Before you can move on, which you have decided you must do, there are matters important to you that must be settled with your current spouse. But why involve other people and especially a lawyer? Because you want any agreement that you make to be enforceable, not simply because you no longer trust the other person, maybe you do, but because things change and the question becomes “Who will bear the burden of those future changes?” Do you want your ex-spouse to be able to ignore and walk away from agreements such as an agreement to provide child support, maintenance support, or for an agreed upon parenting plan? What about agreements regarding a division of property including real estate, life insurance, retirement accounts, pension funds, etc? Of course you want your divorce agreement to be honored but, unless you get a legally binding, court ordered judgment consisting essentially of an agreement governing all the important divorce related issues, that is exactly what will happen.

There are different approaches to achieving an agreement to terminate your marital relationship through divorce. The approach your lawyer will follow depends on the attitudes of the parties involved. The divorce can be very collaborative where the parties work together to achieve an equitable agreement. The lawyers provide guidance and the court formalizes the agreement you work out together. This approach helps to preserve civility and the ability for you to work together with your ex-spouse in the future, for example, to provide support and encouragement to children of the marriage. Alternatively, the process could be combative and contentious where one or both parties are unwilling or unable to compromise. Sometimes this approach may be unavoidable but it will likely result in a great deal of collateral damage in the form of emotional scars, devastated children, and lasting dissatisfaction, not to mention substantial legal costs. Often the process lies somewhere in between.

If you choose me as your lawyer, I pledge to work with you to set and accomplish your goals by whatever means are necessary. Protecting and furthering your interests will be my chief concern. You may initiate contact with me through this web site, which is a secure means of communication. Simply click on the Contact menu and fill out and submit the email form in the right side bar. Alternatively, you may call me directly at 503-686-0981. Note that my two offices are conveniently located in Hillsboro and in Tualatin, Oregon, and I serve the Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, and Lake Oswego communities. I look forward to meeting you and working together with you to solve your legal problem.

Child custody

When parents separate or divorce, custody of the children may be awarded to either the father or the mother. When determining which party gets custody, the Court weighs the best interests and welfare of the child. The issues considered by the Court include the following:

  • What are the emotional ties between the child and other family members?
  • What is the degree of interest each party has in the child and what are th general attitudes toward the child?
  • How desirable is it to continue an existing relationship?
  • Has there been any abuse of one parent by the other?
    Does the child have a preference for the primary caregiver, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court?
  • What is the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child?

In determining custody of a minor child, the court shall consider other factors if it is shown that any of these factors are causing or may cause emotional or physical damage to the child. Such other factors include the following:

  • What is the general conduct of the parent?
  • What is the parent’s marital status?
  • Is the parent’s level of income adequate?
  • What social environment would the child be subjected to?
  • Are there potential problems given the parent’s life style?

An order providing for joint custody may specify one home as the primary residence of the child and designate one parent to have sole power to make decisions about specific matters. Otherwise, both parents retain equal rights and responsibilities for making decisions related to non-specified matters.

If you choose me as your lawyer, I pledge to work with you to set and accomplish your goals by whatever means are necessary. Protecting and furthering your interests will be my chief concern. You may initiate contact with me through this web site, which is a secure means of communication. Simply click on the Contact menu and fill out and submit the email form in the right side bar. Alternatively, you may call me directly at 503-686-0981. Note that my two offices are conveniently located in Hillsboro and in Tualatin, Oregon, and I serve the Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, and Lake Oswego communities. I look forward to meeting you and working together with you to solve your legal problem.

Support modifications

Support orders, originating with Oregon divorce decrees, typically come in two varieties: spousal support and child support. Both may be modified.

Modification of a spousal support order, resulting from a divorce decree, requires a showing of substantial and unanticipated change in economic circumstances, not of a temporary nature. Either party, the one receiving the support or the one paying, may petition the Court for modification (increase, decrease, stop, resume, lengthen, shorten) based on either parties’ changed circumstances. However, even if a substantial change is demonstrated, that does not guarantee the modification will go forward. The Court will look at the totality of the circumstances including the rationale behind the original award, whether it was compensatory, transitional or maintenance, the current financial condition both parties, and whether a right to modification was waved in the original judgment. The bottom line for the Court is whether the relative economic positions of the parties, as established in the initial divorce decree, have changed so greatly that they are now overly disproportionate thus warranting a modification.

Note that spousal support does not automatically terminate upon remarriage of the spouse receiving the support. Termination of the legally binding support order must be properly requested and ultimately acted on by the court. Since the proceedings and arguments can be complex and technical and because a great deal of money is often at stake, the services of a competent lawyer are recommended.

Child support may be modified through a procedure similar to a modification of spousal support. A party must request that the Court somehow modify the support order and show a substantial and unanticipated change in economic circumstances, not of a temporary nature. Child support can be established through an administrative proceeding filed by the state of Oregon, through a paternity action filed by a party, in a petition for custody action between unmarried parents, or in a divorce proceeding. In all cases, including a divorce (dissolution of marriage proceeding), child support is established by using the state of Oregon’s Uniform Child Support Guidelines.

The state has created a formula that takes into account the parties’ income, the parties’ parenting plan, child care costs, medical insurance costs and uninsured ongoing medical expenses. Oregon’s child support calculator is found online at www.dcs.state.or.us/calculator. The worksheet’s formulae determine a specific amount of child support based on the facts of the particular case. This amount is presumed to be correct, therefore, a judge must award that amount unless specific findings are made showing that the amount is unjust and not appropriate based on the facts of the particular case. If a substantial change has occurred, the Court will re-calculate the support amount and, if challenged, determine whether the change is voluntary or in bad faith. If the Court is persuaded that a substantial and unanticipated change has occurred and that the change is not voluntary or carried out in bad faith, then the Court will likely order a modification.