Portland District Court: Family Law Pilot Project
If you are trying to get a divorce in the Portland District Court, you might find some helpful information here.
First, watch this short video. Then read some tips that may also help you to navigate the court process.
This information also applies if you are an unmarried parent, trying to get a "parental rights" or "paternity" order.
More About Court Forms:
Online Court Forms
You can get interactive online forms. This includes a self-calculating "Child Support Worksheet". A few forms, including the "Divorce Summons," must be purchased from the court clerk. More on completing, filing and serving court forms.
- If you are not married, you do not have to fill out this form. This is for divorces only.
- If you do not own real estate, you are not asking for alimony, and your financial picture is simple enough, you do not have to fill out this form. Instead, you can use the much shorter form: Certificate in Lieu of Financial Statement.
- If your property issues are complicated (including real estate, pensions, businesses or large debts), you should get help from a lawyer.
Child Support Worksheet
This is a complicated form. First you must know the other parent's income. Also, you need to know about child care expenses, medical coverage, ongoing medical expenses, and other child support payments, if any. If you have all of this information, you can use a self-calculating version of the form or get help from the Volunteer Lawyer's Project. If you are still having trouble completing this form, ask the Court Magistrate for help with it when you go to your "initial court appearance."
Entry of Appearance Form
This applies only to the Defendant (the parent who received the Court complaint). If you are the Defendant, you can respond with an "answer" or with the simpler "entry of appearance" form. File either one with the court clerk and mail a copy to the Plaintiff (the other parent). If you have not done this before the "first court appearance," bring it with you to court.
If you can both go to court at the time reserved for hearings on "agreements" (any Monday, Tuesday or Friday, at 8:15 am), this can speed your case along. But be careful. For this to work, you must come with all of the required forms and a completed forms "Checklist." Also, if one parent does not show up, the court will probably not approve your agreement. Your other choice is to wait for the court-scheduled "Case Management Conference" (See Paragraph IV on your Scheduling Order.)
"Hearings on agreements" for parental rights cases (for unmarried parents) can be held at anytime after the initial court papers are "served" and "filed" with the court clerk. In divorce cases, you must wait 60 days from the date of "service" before getting a "hearing on agreement."
Divorces Without Children:
The video talks about divorce with children and parental rights cases (for unmarried parents.) If you have no children, the court procedures will be slightly different.
Defendants beware! In a case with no children, if you do not file with the Court an "answer" to the complaint, or the simpler "entry of appearance" form, you will be defaulted. This means that the Court assumes that you do not want to be heard on any of the issues the Court will decide (such as alimony, dividing property, and dividing debts). More information and sample forms.
If you are the Plaintiff (you started the divorce), and the Defendant does not answer, you will get a "Notice of Final Hearing." This tells you the date and time of your "uncontested divorce hearing." You must bring a completed "Checklist" and all of the required forms.
If the Defendant does respond to the complaint, then the Court will send both parties a Scheduling Order. This tells you:
- To complete and file a "Financial Statement" within 30 days.
- To complete "Discovery" by certain deadlines.
- To schedule a "Mediation" session within 150 days, unless you have agreed to everything.
Mediation will cost each party $80. If you cannot afford this fee, you can file for a "fee waiver." Get the forms online or ask the Court Clerk for the forms.
If you own real estate, pensions, or a business, or have other complicated property issues that require "discovery," you should try to get a lawyer.