Example of Court Annexed Arbitration Opinion: Six

     Comment:  Both parties had fee waivers.  Thus, this court annexed arbitration was conducted without compensation to the arbitrator.

    There were no children and there was no property to divide.  Husband had filed for divorce using forms available from the court clerk and without the assistance of a lawyer.  Wife, who was in prison for drug offenses, filed an informal response asking for spousal support.  Thus, under the court annexed arbitration statute, the matter was referred to me for hearing.  Wife appeared at the hearing by telephone from the office of her prison counselor.


      I am the court annexed arbitrator in this case, duly appointed by the Multnomah County Circuit Court.  This matter came on for hearing before me this morning at approximately 9:00 a.m.  Petitioner husband was present in person.  Respondent wife was present by conference call from the correctional facility. 

    The witnesses (husband and wife) were sworn.  Based on their testimony based on questions posed by me and the records and files of the court, I find: The parties are married to each other, irreconcilable differences have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage, both have been resident of Oregon for more than six months, and husband was a resident of Multnomah County at the time the petition for dissolution was filed.  Those are the facts that are necessary to be proved to give the Multnomah County Circuit Court (and thus me) jurisdiction to hear this case and grant a dissolution.

    Based on the testimony and the records and files of the court, I further find that there are no joint children and that wife is not pregnant.  My jurisdiction as a court annexed arbitrator is premised on there being no claim for custody or child support.

    The issues in this case are entitlement to a divorce, division of property and debts, spousal support, and a change of wife’s name.

    Based on proof of the jurisdictional facts, husband is entitled to a divorce.  Both parties testified that there are no marital assets or debts to be divided.  Wife expressly abandoned a claim for spousal support during the hearing (both prior to being sworn as a witness and upon questioning after being sworn).  I have no statutory authority to change wife’s name absent a request by her for such a change.

    I will prepare an ‘award’ incorporating the above.  My award will also include certain other statutorily required langauge.  My award will be filed with the court.  Both parties have certain rights to appeal the award, on a certain timeline provided by statute.  I do not provide advice to the parties about their right to appeal, the cost, the time that it would take, or the consequences of an appeal.  I observe that, given the testimony of the parties, it does not appear that there would be much to appeal.  If a party appealed, the case would be set for trial before a Multnomah County circuit court judge.

    The end result of a lawsuit for a divorce is a judgment of dissolution (dissolution being an eleven letter word where the seven letter word divorce would be more understandable).  After the time for appeal of my award expires, it is my understanding that the court file will be sent to the circuit court judge who presides over the arbitration process, and the judge will sign either an order approving my award, or a separate judgment.

    As a matter of personal practice, I submit a form of judgment to the court along with my award, and I expect the court will sign that judgment.

    Under Oregon law, the marriage is terminated as of the date that the judgment signed by the judge is ‘entered’ which is part of the paperwork process behind the scenes in the court, usually a couple of days after the signed judgment is filed.

    My guess is that everything will be done about 45 days from now.

    Thank you for your consideration.