What Can I Do If I Discovered a Mistake in My Oregon Divorce Judgment?
If the mistake occurred because of an oversight or an omission, you can ask the court to correct the error. ORCP 71A. These mistakes normally occur during the drafting of the divorce judgment and are clear to everyone involved including the lawyers. In my 20 years of practice as a divorce attorney, I have never had a dispute with another attorney over a clerical mistake. That’s because as humans we recognize these mistakes sometimes happen, which is why we have a rule that allows such mistakes to be easily fixed.
Other mistakes may occur, however, where the only remedy is to vacate or set aside the divorce judgment. In other words, in some situations you can tear up your divorce judgment and begin again. These types of mistakes need to be brought to the attention of the court as soon as they are discovered, and not more than one year after the divorce judgment is entered. ORCP 71B(1)(a).
I recently had a case where the father mistakenly reported his net income instead of his gross income on a divorce form. As a result of the mistake, the father’s child support obligation for three children was less than it should have been. The mother, meanwhile, was a housewife during the marriage without any prospect of employment. Neither the mother nor the father sought the advice of an attorney before signing the divorce judgment, and the mother agreed the father did not have to pay her spousal support (alimony).
Both the husband and wife testified in court they were unaware of the mistake. As a result, much to the father’s chagrin, the court set aside the judgment. Consequently, the mother now has a second chance to ask for what she is entitled to, namely, an appropriate amount of child support and spousal support.
The lesson that can be learned from this case is that you should never sign a divorce judgment without the advice of an attorney. You don’t necessarily need to be represented by an attorney, but you should have an attorney review your divorce judgment before you sign it because mistakes can occasionally occur. Luckily for my client, she came to see me within one year of her divorce, and we were able to obtain the relief she needed.
If you need a divorce attorney, please contact the Law Office of Bret D. Lubic, 503-232-3940 or click here today. My office is located at 1507 SE 45th Avenue, Ste. 308, Portland, OR 97215.
Bret D. Lubic,PC attorneys at law is focused on family law and estate planning matters. We handle cases in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, and the State of Oregon at large. Learn more about us click here.