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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.
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.
Divorce and Custody Trial Brochure Information from judges, laywers, and court staff on preparing for your divorce, custody, or other family law trial and what to expect when you go to court. Updated 12/2019
NOTE: During COVID-19, Oregon state courts have significantly limited divorce and custody trials and hearings. Staffing is also limited for only the most critical needs. Oregon courts have prioritized family law cases involving immediate danger and restraining order matters, and these are still heard at every courthouse throughout Oregon.
Many counties have postponed divorce or custody trials and hearings for several months. Some counties may hold proceedings remotely, such as by phone or video, or require strict social distancing rules if the matters are to be heard in person. To learn what your local court is doing, select your court from the drop down menu at https://www.courts.oregon.gov. You can learn more about Oregon State Courts' responses to COVID-19 at the following links:
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:
Who Facilitators Can Assist:
How Facilitators Can Assist:
What Facilitators Cannot do:
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