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Bankruptcy

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is essentially a procedure whereby individuals (or businesses) can obtain court ordered relief from all of their debts (with certain exceptions) in return for giving up (with certain exceptions) all of their property.

What are the types of bankruptcy?

The two most common types of bankruptcies individuals file are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Liquidation of Assets

  • This is a proceeding that will probably result in the discharge of your debts without the necessity of paying any money to any of your unsecured creditors or losing any of your property.
  • This form of bankruptcy was designed to eliminate most unsecured debt – debt that is not connected to property, such as credit card, medical, and utility bills.
  • This bankruptcy option offers a full discharge of debt – meaning that you will never again be responsible for repaying the debt that qualifies under Chapter 7.
  • Bear in mind that not everyone qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In order to qualify, the court must determine that you no longer have the means to repay your debts. You must also complete a pre-filing session with a credit counselor.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings cost $306 as of May 2013.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Adjustment of Debts for an Individual With Regular Income

  • A bankruptcy option for individuals with a regular income, whether from wages, government benefits, or otherwise.
  • Designed to stop foreclosure, and may allow you to stay in your home while you pay your debts that are past-due.
  • The debtor develops a plan to make monthly payments on his or her debts, over a 3 to 5 year period. The amount of the monthly payments depends on the amount of monthly disposable income and the nature of the debts. At the conclusion of this period the debtor is discharged from liability for any unsecured debts (such as credit card, medical, utility bills) and hopefully is no longer delinquent on any secured debts (such as mortgages and vehicle loans).
  • Bear in mind that not everyone qualifies for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • Please note that some debts that are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are dischargeable in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • Chapter 13 filings cost $281 as of May 2013.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Child Custody

Parents in a custody proceeding may be awarded joint custody or one parent may be awarded sole custody.

What is joint custody? 


  • In Oregon, joint custody means the parents share decision-making responsibilities for a child.
  • Parents may have joint custody even when a child lives exclusively with one parent.
  • A judge cannot award joint custody in Oregon unless both parents agree to it.
  • Joint custody does not do away with a parent’s child support obligation.
  • Child support is determined by the child support guidelines and is based on the parents’ income, the amount of time that the child spends with each parent, and other factors.

What is sole custody?

  • Sole custody in Oregon means that one parent makes all major decisions regarding the child.
  • Major decisions include but are not limited to the child’s religion, education, health care, and where the child lives.
  • If either parent objects to joint custody, a judge must decide which parent will have sole custody.

Factors a judge will consider in a custody proceeding:

  • A judge’s primary consideration in awarding custody is the best interests of the child.
  • In determining the best interests of a child, the court will consider numerous factors such as the emotional ties between the child and other family members and the parents’ interest and attitude toward the child.
  • The judge will also consider the conduct, marital status, income, social environment or lifestyle of a parent only if it is shown that those factors are causing or may cause emotional or physical harm to the child. Judges usually are reluctant to separate siblings.
  • A judge cannot give custody to a parent just because the parent is the mother or father of the child.
  • A judge may consider a child’s preference about where he or she wants to live, but a judge does not have to follow the child’s wishes.
  • A judge may rely on the testimony of expert witnesses such as psychologists, social workers, teachers, counselors, or psychiatrists to decide what is the best custody arrangement for the child.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Debtor/Creditor Basics

What is a debtor?

A debtor is an entity (a person or business) that owes money to someone else. If the debt is in the form of a loan from a financial institution, the debtor is referred to as the borrower. If the debt is in the form of securities (bonds, for example), the debtor is referred to as an issuer.

What is a creditor?

A creditor is an entity (a person or institution) to which money (or its equivalent) is owed. Creditors allow others to borrow money to be repaid at a later date. Creditors can be broken into two basic categories: “personal” or “real.”
“Personal” creditors are people who loan money to friends or family.
“Real” creditors are typically banks or finance companies that have contracts with the debtor (borrower or issuer) that allow the creditor to claim the debtor’s assets (property or vehicle) if the debtor fails to pay back the loan.

If you fail to pay a debt, it is not a crime.

Most of the time, except in some bankruptcies, debtors can pay debts in any order they choose.
However, if you fail to pay a debt, you have broken a contract or agreement between you (the debtor) and someone else (the creditor), and the creditor can often collect on the debt.
Even if you cannot repay the debt, the creditor is still allowed to collect on the debt. Often, the creditor will assign your debt to a debt collection agency or debt collection lawyer, whose job it is to collect your debt on behalf of the creditor.

Additional resources are available at:

The Oregon State Bar

Oregon Law Help

The Federal Trade Commission

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Dissolution of Marriage

What is a “dissolution of marriage”?

A dissolution of marriage is a divorce that legally ends a marriage.

How does the dissolution process begin?

  • The dissolution process begins when one spouse files a petition for dissolution.
  • The spouse who files the petition is called the “petitioner.” The other spouse is referred to as the “respondent.” If both spouses file a petition jointly, they are called “co-petitioners.”

 What is the basic timeline of an uncontested dissolution?

-Before we file any papers with the court you will need to bring a check or money order made payable to “Access the Law” for the costs of court fees. The attorney working on your case will tell you how much it will cost you, but anticipate at least $260 in court filing fees.

  • After your initial appointment you will be asked to complete some informational forms.
  • As soon as we receive all filing fees and you return the completed forms to Access the Law / ASOSU Legal Services, the Petition will be prepared. The Petition will set out the facts of your situation (for example, whether or not you have children, real property, and so forth.) You will be asked to come in to review and sign the Petition. The Petition will be filed at the courthouse.
  • Our office then will send a copy of the Summons and Petition to your spouse along with a letter asking him or her to sign an Acceptance of Service form before a notary public. When your spouse signs this form it means that your spouse has received the papers. It does not mean that your spouse agrees with any of the terms set forth in the Petition.
  • Most of the time the attorney can present the final papers to the court without a formal hearing.
  • The judge will sign the final Judgment granting your divorce. Your divorce will be effective immediately.

Access the Law / ASOSU Legal Services handles dissolution of marriage cases in Benton County. It may be necessary to make an hour-long appointment with the attorney after the initial consult. Please note that we cannot help you if your spouse is also a student at Oregon State University or if this is a contested divorce.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Driver License & Insurance

Driver License Information for Out-of-State and International Students

  • Oregon law requires all persons driving in Oregon to have a valid (current) driver license, whether the license is issued by the State of Oregon, another state, or another country.
  • Non-residents may apply for an Oregon driver license at any time after moving to Oregon.

You are required to have an Oregon license to drive in Oregon if:

  • You have continuously remained in this state for more than 6 months; or
  • You have enrolled your child in public school in Oregon and don’t pay tuition for your child; or
  • You declare yourself as a resident in order to obtain resident rates for some other license or privilege (for example, by applying for resident tuition).

Applying for an Oregon driver license may not be the best for everyone

Students from some states, including Alaska, may have a financial interest in maintaining non-resident/Alaska resident status. For those students, obtaining an Oregon driver license could be counterproductive to maintaining their home state residency.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

DUI

What is a DUI?

A DUI is the crime of driving a vehicle with blood levels of alcohol in excess of a legal limit (“Blood Alcohol Content”, or “BAC”). Similar regulations cover driving or operating certain types of machinery while affected by drinking alcohol or taking other drugs, including, but not limited to prescription drugs.

What is the legal alcohol limit in Oregon?

In Oregon, the legal blood alcohol content limit is 0.08. Contrary to popular belief, however, you can still be arrested for a DUI if you are under this limit if the officer believes you are impaired. Your best bet is not to drink and drive.

If you are arrested for DUI and you:

Take a breath test and fail it
DMV will suspend your driving privileges for 90 days. If you have any prior alcohol-related entries on your driving record within five years, DMV will suspend your driving privileges for one year.

Refuse to take a breath test
DMV will suspend your driving privileges for one year. If you have any prior alcohol-related entries on your driving record within five years, DMV will suspend your driving privileges for three years.

Refuse to take a urine test
DMV will suspend your driving privileges for one year. If you have any prior alcohol-related entries on your driving record within five years, DMV will suspend your driving privileges for three years. The suspension for refusing a urine test will not start until any other implied consent suspension (even from the same arrest) is over.

Refuse to take a blood test while receiving medical care in a health care facility following a motor vehicle collision
DMV will suspend your driving privileges for one year. If you have any prior alcohol-related entries on your driving record within five years, DMV will suspend your driving privileges for three years.

Fail a blood test while receiving medical care in a health care facility following a motor vehicle collision
DMV will suspend your driving privileges for 90 days. If you have any prior alcohol-related entries on your driving record within five years, DMV will suspend your driving privileges for one year. This suspension will begin on the 60th day after DMV received the report that you failed the test. DMV will send a suspension notice to the address on your driving record to inform you of the suspension dates. The officer will not confiscate your driver license and issue a 30-day temporary driving permit. You are required to return any license in your possession to DMV when the suspension begins.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Expungement

What is an expungement?

“Expungement” is the legal term for sealing a criminal record. This means that a criminal conviction or arrest is wiped clean from someone’s record.

Under Oregon law you are generally eligible for an expungement of your criminal conviction and/or arrest record:

  • Any time after three years from the date of the conviction, as long as you have complied with and fully performed the sentence of the court IF your conviction was a violation, misdemeanor, or Class C felony, or a crime punishable as either a felony or a misdemeanor; OR
  • Any time after one year from the date of any arrest, if no complaint was filed; or any time after an acquittal or a dismissal of the charge.

You are NOT eligible for an expungement if:

  • Your conviction is for the use of firearms in a felony
  • Your conviction is for a Class B felony called a “person felony”
  • Your conviction is for a sex crime or child abuse crime;
  • You have been convicted of another crime within the immediately preceding 10-year period of applying for an expungement;
  • Your conviction is for a traffic offense; or
  • There is another criminal charge pending against you in court.

If you qualify for an expungement Legal Services will prepare papers to file with the court asking for an order sealing your record. The expungement process may take from 3 months to one year, so plan ahead.

Expungement Fees:

In order to begin the process you will need to obtain a fingerprint card with a full set of your fingerprints.

  • You can have the fingerprint card made at the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, located within the Lane County Courthouse at 125 E. 8th Avenue. The cost per fingerprint card is $12, payable by cash or check only. You will need to present a valid form of photo identification.
  • Please follow THIS LINK  for the current dates, times, and locations available for fingerprinting in Eugene.
  • If you are sealing a record of conviction, a certified check in the amount of $80, payable to the Department of State Police, must be attached to the fingerprint card. The fingerprint card must be given to the prosecuting attorney to forward to the Department of State Police.
  • There is a state-wide expungement filing fee of $240.
  • Access the Law / ASOSU Legal Services may charge a document preparation fee.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Fake IDs

Offenses involving false identification or misuse of identification apply to student IDs, driver licenses issued by any state or country, ID cards issued by any state or country, and other documents which might be used to prove identity, address or age.

Common offenses include:

Using Invalid License or ID
If you alter of your own driver license or DMV-issued ID, or the license or ID of another to show incorrect age, you could be prosecuted for this offense. Possession of an altered license or ID card is enough to be charged with this crime.

Permitting Misuse of License or ID
If you lend your driver license or DMV-issued ID to another in order to obtain alcohol or entry to drinking establishments you could be prosecuted even if the friend you loaned your license to never even used it.

Using Another’s License or ID
If you display someone else’s driver license or DMV-issued ID to obtain alcohol or entry to drinking establishment, you could be prosecuted.

Unlawful Production of License or ID Card
If you unlawfully manufacture or sell a fake driver license or ID, you could be charged.

False Swearing/False Application/Forgery
If you present another’s identification to DMV to obtain a license or ID card that shows incorrect name, date of birth or address information.

Misrepresentation of Age by a Minor
If you misrepresent your age to gain entry to drinking establishments, even if you don’t consume alcohol inside, you could be charged with an offense. The misrepresentation could be verbal, written (such as a certified statement of age) or by presentation of any type of identification card, whether or not issued by a DMV.

Holding Multiple Licenses or ID Cards
If you apply to DMV for a duplicate license or ID, whether or not you lend your original license or DMV-issued ID to another, you could be charged.

Giving False Info to Police Officer/Police Officer Issuing Citation
If you misrepresent your name, address or age to a police officer verbally, or by presenting a borrowed, fake or altered driver license or ID card, you could be charged.

Most of these offenses are Class A Misdemeanor crimes, punishable by up to $6,250 or one year in jail, or both. However, several unfortunate students have been prosecuted for Forgery (the act of signing your friend’s name on a DMV license or ID application using your friend’s birth certificate). This type of Forgery is a felony, punishable by up to $125,000 fine, 5 years in jail, or both.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Identity Theft Identification

The Oregon Consumer Identify Theft Protection Act, passed during the 2007 Legislature, creates strong standards for businesses to ensure the safety of sensitive data that can be used by identity thieves. The law contains several new requirements:

Protecting Social Security Numbers

Effective Oct 1, 2007. The law prohibits anyone who keeps Social Security numbers from printing them on any material that is mailed when the recipient has not requested it. The law also prohibits printing a Social Security number on a card used to access products or services, or publicly posting or displaying a Social Security number, such as on a Web site.

Notification of Security Breach

Effective Oct 1, 2007. Anyone who keeps personal identifying information about Oregonians must notify them if computer files containing that personal information have been subject to a security breach. The notification must be done as soon as possible–unless it would impede a criminal investigation–in writing, electronically, or by telephone.

Protecting Data

Effective Jan 1, 2008. Businesses must develop, implement, and maintain reasonable safeguards to ensure the security, confidentiality, and integrity of the personal identity information they keep. Under this law, a proper security plan includes:

Administrative safeguards such as identifying what personal information the business keeps and how to keep it safe, training employees in security program practices and procedures, and ensuring that contracted service providers are capable of supplying and maintaining systems that protect sensitive information.

Technical safeguards such as assessing risks in network and software design, and detecting, preventing and responding to attacks or system failures;

Physical safeguards such as protecting against unauthorized access to or use of personal identifying information, and disposing of information that is no longer needed by way of shredding, burning or erasing electronic data that is unreadable or cannot be reconstructed.

The law also allows Oregon consumers to place a security freeze on their credit file to help prevent identity theft. For guidance on how to implement these new requirements, go to the Department of Consumer and Business Services Web site at http://www.dfcs.oregon.gov/id_theft.html or call 503-378-4140 or toll free 866-814-9710.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Insurance Requirements

Oregon law requires every person who drives in this state to carry automobile liability insurance in case of an accident.

What is liability insurance?

Liability insurance only covers damage you cause to another vehicle, its occupants, or a bicyclist or pedestrian, if the accident was your fault. Liability insurance will not pay for damage to your own car whether or not the accident was your fault.

Every liability insurance policy in Oregon includes Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP). PIP will pay for medical expenses up to $15,000 during the first year after you or your passenger are injured in a car accident, even if the accident was your fault.

Driving Uninsured

You will get a ticket if you are caught driving without liability insurance. The penalty could result in fines, suspension of your driving privileges, and your vehicle could be towed. Until you get a ticket for driving uninsured, the Motor Vehicles Division (DMV) will take your word that you have valid liability insurance, but once you are convicted of driving without insurance, the DMV will suspend your privilege to drive in Oregon any time during the following three years that you fail to provide constant proof you have valid insurance.

After you have been convicted of driving uninsured, you will typically have to file for SR-22. Unlike a standard insurance policy, an SR-22 is a special high risk, high cost insurance policy that requires the insurer to notify DMV any time you allow the policy to lapse. The DMV will suspend your license when it gets notice your SR-22 has lapsed. To make matters worse, once you are suspended your insurance rates will go up and you will have to pay to reinstate your driving privileges when your suspension is over.

Here are two common ways people get in trouble for driving uninsured:

My friend told me I would be covered by his insurance when I borrowed his car.

Don’t borrow a friend’s car believing you will be covered by the owner’s insurance. Your friend’s insurance may not cover you if you have an accident while driving their car, whether or not the accident was your fault. If your friend’s insurance won’t pay and the crash was your fault, you will be personally liable for any injury you caused to the other car and its occupants. Even if the accident was not your fault, you could be cited for driving uninsured, and your drivers license could be suspended for up to one year.

Your best bet is to not allow others to drive your car.

The general rule is that insurance follows the car, not the driver. This means that your own insurance will be considered the primary coverage in case of an accident. So even if your friend has his or her own insurance, you will not be able to choose which policy the claim will be paid from. You could wind up paying for your friend’s negligence for years through increased premiums.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Landlord Tenant Law

Before you rent a place, you should make sure that:

  • The place meets your needs
  • You can afford the rent;
  • You clearly understand who will pay for electricity, heat, water, and garbage pickup; and
  • You inspect the place and note in writing any problems.

The following difficulties recur in many lease situations:

“Don’t worry. We’ll fix that before you move in. Just sign the lease.”

The landlord may be referring to a broken lock, a dirty carpet, or a colony of ants in the kitchen. Conducting a walk-through with the landlord/manager and jointly signing a report that lists all imperfect conditions is a good idea. This should be done as close as possible to the beginning of the tenancy.

“Don’t worry. That paragraph won’t apply to you. Just sign the lease.”

When a tenant signs a lease, it is assumed that the tenant read it, understands it, and agrees to the terms contained in it. If the landlord tells you that a particular part of the lease won’t apply to you, insist on striking through the provision and have the deletion initialed by both the landlord and yourself.

“It’s really just a standard lease. You don’t need to read it all. Just sign.”

This statement should instantly alarm you! Very few leases are “standard.” For example, the lease used by one landlord may provide for an increase in rent during the period of the lease if the landlord’s expenses increase. Make sure you read the lease, and don’t sign unless you understand the provisions and agree to them.

“I have lots of people interested in this unit. If you don’t sign now, it probably won’t be available tomorrow.”

Don’t let yourself be pressured by this statement. If the unit you’re interested in isn’t available tomorrow, then there are probably other places to live. If you need time to read over the lease or to decide whether the unit is right for you, take some time to think about it. Once you’ve signed a lease, you’ve committed.

NOTE: Under state and federal laws there are time limits for taking action to enforce your rights. In Oregon, many lawsuits related to the rental agreement must be filed (started in court) within one year of the incident. There may be other, shorter time limits that apply in other cases. Ask a lawyer about the time limits that could apply in your situation.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Name Changes

How can I change my name?

If you want to change your name, you have three options:

By “Common Law”

  • In order to change your name using this method, you will need to notify all agencies and institutions in writing that your name is changed. This includes Social Security, university registration, driver’s license and car registration, bank accounts, credit cards, leases, employment records, etc. You may have to pay a fee for some of these changes.
  • You also may run into a hassle with some places that won’t process the change without court papers, even though you are not legally required to go through that process. If this happens, you may appeal the decision of the administrative agent within that agency, or you may change your name in court as described below.

By Divorce Decree

  • The court has the authority to grant an order, upon request, allowing a woman or man to resume her or his former name (or maiden name) as part of the divorce process.

By Court Action

  • Changing your name through Access the Law / ASOSU Legal Services takes approximately six weeks.
  • The first visit to the office consists of filling out an intake form so that we may prepare the Petition for Change of Name.
  • The Petition will ask the court for a change of name. You will be responsible for a court filing fee of $105, payable by check to “Access the Law.”
  • When the Petition has been prepared we will have you return to the office to sign the Petition before a notary public. You will need to bring two pieces of ID with you when you come in for your appointment.
  • The attorney will then go to court and file the Petition. They will also post a notice at the courthouse making your Petition for Change of Name public.
  • No sooner than 14 days after filing the Petition, the attorney will return to court to file a second public posting of your name change.
  • Again, no sooner than 14 days after that posting, the attorney will go back to court for a third time and obtain a certified copy of the judgment from the court, and the process will be complete. We usually have you come into the office to pick it up, so it doesn’t get lost in the mail.
  • With a certified copy of the judgment in hand you will now have a new legal name. You can take that certified copy with you to various agencies to so they can legally change your name in your records.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Separation & Annulment

What is a separation?

  • A judgment of separation may be issued when irreconcilable differences between the parties have caused the temporary or unlimited breakdown of the marriage.
  • It is possible to divide assets and obtain a support order with a legal separation.
  • Because the spouses are still married after a separation, they may continue will their same insurance policy if desired.

What is the difference between a divorce and a separation?

  • The main difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that spouses are still married after a legal separation.
  • Divorce is unending, and legal separation may last for a specified period of time (such as one or two years) or until further action is sought in court (months, years or decades).
  • A legal separation may be converted to a divorce anytime before two years from the legal separation with no extra filing fee. A legal separation may be converted to a divorce later than two years after the legal separation as well, but you will have to pay another court filing fee

What is an annulment?

  • A judgment of annulment cancels the marriage, almost as though it never occurred.
  • Under Oregon law, a marriage may be annulled when a party was incapable of entering into or consenting to marriage because he or she was not of legal age or lacked sufficient understanding or a party’s consent to the marriage was obtained by force or fraud.
  • A marriage may also be annulled when a party to a marriage was married to someone else at the time of the marriage or if there was a procedural defect in the way the marriage was officiated or witnessed.

What is the process for getting a legal separation or an annulment?

  • The process for obtaining a legal separation or an annulment through ASOSU Student Legal Services is similar to dissolution of marriage. The fees are also the same, and are each $260.
  • You will only be required to wait 30 days from the date your spouse signs the Acceptance of Service (or is personally served) before a judge will sign the judgment of separation or annulment, assuming your spouse does not file a formal response to your petition.

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.

Step-Parent Adoption

The only adoptions handled by Access the Law / ASOSU Legal Services are step-parent adoptions and second parent adoptions.

The step-parent adoption process:

  • Both biological parents must consent to the adoption, no matter if they are retaining or giving up their parental rights
  • All household members over the age of 18 must submit to a criminal background check except biological/legal parent(s)
  • A home study must be conducted or, in some cases, the home study requirement may be waived
  • Grandparents must be given notice in some cases

Fees for step-parent adoptions:

There are a number of costs and fees associated with the adoption process:

  • Criminal records check for all adults in the household, excluding birth/legal parent(s): $10.00 each
  • First appearance by petitioner, respondent, or other party at the Benton County Circuit Court: $240.00
  • A new birth certificate if the child was born in Oregon: $50.00
  • Various certified mailings, approximately $10
  • Other possible costs depending on the case

Any incidental fee-paying Lane Community College student who has questions about this topic may call Access the Law / LCC Legal Services at 541-686-4890 to arrange an appointment.