Van Ness, Williamson LLP helps people through the most difficult periods of their lives. If you are experiencing any of the following, call our firm to set up a consultation.


If you are going through a divorce, you need an attorney to ensure that your interests, both personal and financial, are protected. Even couples who are on “good terms” still require the assistance of an experience legal professional to guide them through the divorce process.

Pre and Post Nuptials

Nothing can kill romance faster than the word prenup. But with about one in three of all first marriages ending in divorce, and 50 percent of second or third ones hitting the skids, a prenup is smart financial planning. You should consider having a prenup if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • You have assets such as a home, stock or retirement funds
  • Own all or part of a business
  • You may be receiving an inheritance
  • You have children and/or grandchildren from a previous marriage
  • One of you is much wealthier than the other
  • One of you will be supporting the other through college
  • You have loved ones who need to be taken care of, such as elderly parents
  • You have or are pursuing a degree or license in a potentially lucrative profession such as medicine
  • You could see a big increase in income because your business is taking off.

A prenuptial agreement, antenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement, commonly abbreviated to prenup or prenupt, is a contract entered into prior to marriage, by the people intending to marry. The content of a prenuptial agreement can vary widely, but commonly includes provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce or breakup of marriage. To be valid both parties must FULLY disclose their assets prior to negotiation of the prenup. Also, the prenup should be signed as early before the nuptials as possible to avoid the appearance of coercion.

Legal Separation

Couples may legally separate without divorcing, but still need to work through custody and alimony. It is important that you work with our attorneys if you are looking to separate.

Property Division

Division of property in a divorce can be a huge concern for splitting couples. Determining who gets what can be a battle and keeping what is rightfully yours is important.

Chid Custody

If children are involved in a marriage, there can be some serious custody battles between divorcing parents. Determining parenting time, custody and support should be handled by a lawyer.

Child Support

If you are not the custodial parent, you will be required to pay child support for any child under the age of 18. Call one of our lawyers today to help you through that process.

Spousal Support

If one party in a divorce case has been accustomed to a lifestyle standard that was set during marriage, spousal support may come into play.

Parenting Time

Visiting your children is imperative to the well-being of a child. Studies show that children who have both parents in their lives flourish and benefit from the contact of both parents.


Determining paternity is important. If paternity is not established, you may lose visitation rights and your rights as a biological parent.


Modifications may be made to your divorce decree with the assistance of our legal team.

Military Divorce

Military service members have unique protections. Under the Service Members Civil Relief Act military members are protected from lawsuits including divorce proceedings so they can “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation.” A court can delay legal proceedings for the time that the service member is on active duty and for up to 60 day following active duty. Jurisdiction for the divorce can be where the service member is stationed, where the spouse resides or where the service member claims legal residency. Additionally, the Uniformed Services Former Spousal Protection Act provides certain protections for the service member’s pension if the marriage is less than 10 years. Under the USFSPA a former military spouse is eligible for full medical, commissary and exchange privileges when the following apply to the marriage:

  • The marriage lasts at least 20 years.
  • The military member performed at least 20 years of service creditable for retired pay.
  • There was at least a 20 overlap of the marriage and the military services.

If the spouse remarries, eligibility for benefits is terminated. The benefits are revived if the subsequent marriage ends in divorce. If you are in the military and are considering a divorce, an attorney experienced with military divorces is a must.


Are you or your family looking to adopt? Our attorneys can assist you in sorting through paperwork and legal proceedings of the adoption process.


A guardianship is a legal proceeding in the circuit courts of Oregon in which a guardian is appointed to exercise the legal rights of an incapacitated person. A person can be found to be incapacitated under Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 125.005 if s/he is an adult whose “…ability to receive and evaluate information effectively or to communicate decisions is impaired to such an extent that the person presently lacks the capacity to meet the essential requirements for the person’s physical health or safety. ‘Meeting the essential requirements for physical health and safety’ means those actions necessary to provide the health care, food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene and other care without which serious physical injury or illness is likely to occur.” Under Oregon law, ORS 125.300 (1), guardianship is to be used for an incapacitated person only “… as is necessary to promote and protect the well-being of the protected person. A guardianship for an adult person must be designated to encourage the development of maximum self-reliance and independence of the protected person and may be ordered only to the extent necessitated by the person’s actual mental and physical limitations.” Under ORS 125.300 (2) and (3) “An adult protected person for whom a guardian has been appointed is not presumed to be incompetent. A protected person retains all legal and civil rights provided by law except those that have been expressly limited by court order or specifically granted to the guardian by the court. Rights retained by the person include but are not limited to the right to contact and retain counsel and to have access to personal records.” Guardianship is a legal way for assisting the person indefinitely or until s/he is no longer incapacitated.


A conservatorship is a court proceeding that grants one (or more) person(s) the authority to make financial decisions for another because of a mental or physical incapacity that renders a person unable to make informed and sound decisions. “Financially incapable” is defined in the Oregon Statutes as “a condition in which a person is unable to manage financial resources of the person effectively for reasons including, but not limited to, mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs of controlled substances, chronic intoxication, confinement, detention by a foreign power or disappearance. ‘Manage financial resources’ means those actions necessary to obtain, administer and dispose of real and personal property, intangible property, business property, benefits and income.” The individual remains free to make personal, non-financial decisions, and the conservator makes the financial decisions. A conservator may not be necessary if an individual with an appointed guardian is receiving only a monthly Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income benefit and has money and property totaling less than $10,000. In some cases, if a person has large financial resources, a conservator may be appointed when someone is seeking guardianship of that person.

Estate Planning: Wills and Trusts

There is an old expression, that nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. It is uncomfortable to contemplate of one’s own death, but it is even more difficult on your heirs if you have not done any estate planning. Each person’s will is a testimony of the values held by that individual. It speaks of love and thoughtfulness as well as of careful planning. If there is no will, the state must fill the void with a formula that may not provide for your loved ones as you wish, and may also convey far less than the loving legacy that you want to leave behind. Also, without a will, Oregon presumes you wanted 25% of your estate to go to the State.  Nobody wants to think about their careful planning, including thoughtful preparation of a will that fully expresses your wishes, can provide for the people and the causes to which your life is devoted. Don’t leave matters to chance and fail to draw a will. If you do not prepare a will, a greater than necessary amount of your assets may go to state and federal governments in taxes. And your remaining assets may go to individuals other than those loved ones whom you would prefer to benefit.

Asset Protection

An asset-protection trust is a term which covers a wide spectrum of legal structures. Any form of trust which provides for property to be held on a discretionary basis falls within the category. Such trusts are set up in an attempt to avoid or mitigate the effects of taxation, divorce and bankruptcy on the beneficiary.