Divorce and Separation


A PDF guide to how the mediation process fits with the legal divorce process.

Glossary of terms

Access, Right of Access. Child’s right to contact with both parents. See also “Frequent and Continuing Contact”

“Best Interest of the child.” If a judge decides a custody/parenting plan case, the judge tries to decide what would be best for the child based on all the testimony and other evidence in the case.

Case, Case Law. Previous cases decided by courts of appeal are published an used by judges to make decisions in current, similar cases

Change in Circumstance. Before modifying (changing) a custody order or parenting plan, a court requires a parent to show that a substantial (major) change in the conditions affecting the child has occurred since the last court order.

Child Support. Money paid by one parent to the other, or to the Department of child Support, to help meet the needs of the child for housing, food, clothing, transportation, etc.

Child Support Guidelines. The formula created by the legislature to determine how much money each parent should contribute to the support of their children. One parent may have to give money to the other if the parent’s contributions as computed by the formula are not equal. Parents may agree to an amount of support different from that set by the guidelines, so long as it adequately supports the child and the court approves.

Code, Section. Laws passed by the state legislature (or adopted by initiative). Most code sections relating to family law are in volumes 107 and 109 of the Oregon Revised Statutes (O.R.S.) and are available at the county law library or on the internet at .

Confidential. When a conversation is confidential, none of the participants can testify in court about what was said. Confidentiality is different with different professionals. You may want to ask the professional person (attorney, mediator, therapist, counselor) what the rules are.

Co-Parents. Parents who share responsibility for raising a child even though the parents no longer live together.

Court Order. Any order made by a judge; the order may be written by the judge or submitted by a party or attorney and signed by the judge. The parties may agree to a plan and, when the judge signs it, it becomes a court order or Judgment. See also stipulation.
Custodial Interference. It is against the law to interfere with the other parent’s reasonable contact with a child except as provided by a court order; when there is a court order, both parents must abide by it.

Custody. In Oregon, “custody” means the right to make major decisions for the welfare of a child. Major decisions include medical care, religion, education and residence. Custody may be either joint with both parents or sole with one parent. “Sole Custody” does not give one parent the right to move away with the child without notice to the other parent unless the order specifically gives that right. Having custody does not necessarily mean having the child live with you (see parenting time). See also regular, split and shared custody for child support terms.

Department of Child Support. The state agency that handles child support where one of the parents is receiving public assistance or the Oregon Health Plan. The county District Attorney’s office helps with child support where no public assistance is involved.

Dissolution of Marriage. Divorce.

Divorce. The legal process of dissolving a marriage; where parents have not been married, they can file a petition for custody (or filiation petition) to obtain orders for custody and a parenting plan.

Expedited Enforcement of Child Custody. A special court case to force the other parent to comply with an existing court ordered custody and parenting plan. It is sometimes called “parenting time enforcement.”

Facilitator, Family Law Facilitator. A court employee who helps parents without attorneys by providing assistance with common family law forms and giving information about court procedures and other sources of help in their communities.

Family Abuse Prevention Act. The law that authorizes courts to issue restraining orders where there has been violence or other forms of abuse within a family. Restraining orders may include orders for custody and