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Family Law Self-Help

Domestic Relations cases can be complicated. This website contains information and resources to help guide you but it is not a substitute for talking with a lawyer. Carefully review the resources listed below to see what kind of help is available in your area. You may need to contact several programs and services before you are able to find the help you need. 

The thought of researching the law on your own can be intimidating but there is a lot of information you can access from your home computer and in your community. Oregon’s statutes and rules are available at the Oregon Judicial Department's Self-Help webpage. Many counties have law libraries that are open to the public where you can research Oregon law.

The Oregon State Bar’s website includes basic information about specific areas of the law (including family law), do-it-yourself legal help, and how to find legal help:

 

Appearing in court can be stressful. It is important to make sure you are prepared. Most court hearings are open to the public. Before your court date, consider observing a family law hearing or trial to give you a better idea of what to expect and how to dress and act appropriately. It is your responsibility to keep the court updated with your current mailing address. The court will send all notices of court appearances to the address you provide. If you miss a court date, you may be in jeopardy of losing your case.

The following resources are also available for your review:

​Before representing yourself, you should do everything you can to get legal help. If you need help finding a lawyer you can contact the Oregon State Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service by visiting their website at www.osbar.org or calling (503) 684-3763 or toll-free in Oregon at 800-452-7636. The Oregon State Bar also offers the Modest Means Program and qualifying applicants may receive assistance from a lawyer who will charge a reduced rate for services after the first consultation.

You may also be able to receive assistance from Legal Aid Services of Oregon. Visit www.oregonlawhelp.org for more information about free or low-cost legal services in your area. Some lawyers are able to provide limited scope representation or “unbundled” services. Unbundled services means you and the lawyer agree to specific issues the lawyer may assist you with in your case and the remaining issues you handle on your own. This may lower the cost you pay for the lawyer because it reduces the amount of time you pay the lawyer for.

​Many courts in Oregon have self-help or “family law facilitation” programs. Visit the Family Law Facilitation page for a list of programs near you. It is important to understand the following BEFORE making a trip to your local courthouse to visit the facilitator:

  • Not all facilitation programs are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. so it is important to contact your local court program before making a trip to the courthouse.
  • Court facilitation programs are free. There are no income requirements to access services. However, you may need money to purchase packets of forms. Check with your local program before making a trip to the courthouse to see how much the forms cost and the types of payment accepted. Forms are free to download from the court’s website or click Family Law Forms for more information.
  • The family court facilitator is not a lawyer. You do not have attorney-client privilege with the facilitator and the facilitator can help both sides in a case.

Who Facilitators Can Assist:

  • People of any income level
  • People who are not represented by lawyers
  • People who know what kind of action they need to file
  • Both parties in a case
  • People who are involved in family law actions such as: dissolution of marriage (divorce), establishing or changing custody and parenting time, enforcing custody and parenting time
    Note: Other types of cases will vary from program to program; check with your local facilitation program.

How Facilitators Can Assist:

  • Provide information on how to find forms and how to complete them
  • Provide information about court procedures, rules, and other educational materials
  • Refer to agencies and resources that provide legal and other services
  • Provide document review to make sure forms are complete
  • Provide information about how to begin a court action

What Facilitators Cannot do:

  • Provide legal advice or opinion
  • Fill out your papers or tell you what to write on them
  • Assist people who are represented by lawyers
  • Tell you what kind of case to file
  • Provide information to one party that would not be given to all other parties
 

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