A divorce is called a dissolution of marriage in Oregon. For any married couple will accomplish two things: (1) severing the marital relationship, and (2) dividing assets and debts. If they have been married for a significant length of time and one of them will be unable to be self-supporting after the divorce, the issue of alimony may also arise. If there are minor children, they will also need to resolve issues of child custody and support.
Residency and where to file
In order to file for dissolution of marriage in Oregon, if you were married in Oregon, either you or your spouse must currently be a resident. If you were not married in the state, one of you must be a resident for at least six months. You may file in the Circuit Court in the county where either of you resides.
The simplest procedure is called a summary procedure, which may be used if:
- there are no minor children and the wife is not pregnant
- the marriage was for no more than 10 years
- no real estate is owned
- there is no more than $15,000 in debts
- the total value of personal property is less than $30,000
- the petitioner waives the right to alimony and temporary court orders (other than orders relating to protection from spouse abuse), and
- there are no other domestic relations cases pending in Oregon or any other state
Even if you don’t meet the requirements for the summary procedure, if you and your spouse are in agreement on all matters, you may file an uncontested divorce using the standard procedure. For either procedure, you would begin by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, along with various other supporting documents. One of these documents will be a marital settlement agreement outlining the division of assets, and your agreement regarding the custody and support of any children. Copies of these documents are provided to your spouse. You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
Grounds for divorce
Grounds for dissolution of marriage are legally recognized reasons to get a dissolution. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship. Oregon, like most states, has what are commonly called no-fault grounds for dissolution, and several traditional fault-based grounds.
To get a no-fault dissolution in Oregon, you need to state in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage that “there are irreconcilable differences between the parties which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.”
The fault-based grounds for dissolution are: consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud, duress, or force; the marriage involved a minor without parental consent; and one party lacked the mental capacity to consent to marriage (including due to the influence of alcohol or drugs). However, in most cases, there is no reason to use either of these, since they add complexity to the process by requiring proof.
A divorce involves dividing property and debts between you and your spouse. Generally, each party may keep their separate property, which is property acquired by a party by gift or inheritance, and held separately on a continuing basis. All other property is marital property. Absent an agreement of the parties, the court will divide marital property “as may be just and proper in all the circumstances,” after considering the following factors:
- any contribution of a party as a homemaker to the acquisition of marital assets
- the reasonable costs of the sale of assets, and any other costs reasonably anticipated
- tax consequences, and
- whether support (alimony) was awarded to a party in lieu of property
Alimony in Oregon
Alimony is referred to as spousal maintenance or spousal support in Oregon. There are three types of spousal support in Oregon law:
- Transitional spousal support: This is support to enable a party to obtain education and training to be able to reenter the job market, or for job advancement.
- Compensatory spousal support: This may be awarded when there has been a significant financial or other contribution by one party to the education, training, vocational skills, career, or earning capacity of the other party.
- Spousal maintenance: This is “a contribution by one spouse to the support of the other for either a specified or an indefinite period.”
In determining the type, amount, and duration of support, the court will consider the following factors:
- the duration of the marriage
- each party’s training, job skills, work experience, and relative earning capacity
- each party’s financial needs and resources
- the tax consequences to each party
- either party’s custodial and child support responsibilities
- the amount, duration, and nature of a party’s contribution to the education, training, vocational skills, career, or earning capacity of the other party
- the extent to which the marital estate has already benefited from the contribution
- each party’s age, and physical, mental, and emotional health
- the standard of living established during the marriage, and
- any other factors the court deems just and equitable
Child custody in Oregon
A custody determination basically comes down to figuring out how the children’s time will be divided between the parents, and how decisions will be made. Oregon child custody law requires each party (or both parties if there is an agreement) to propose a parenting plan outlining matters such as: a schedule of where the child will live at various times (on a weekly basis, as well as for holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc.), transportation, telephone contact, decision-making responsibility, information sharing and access, and methods for resolving disputes.
If you and your spouse reach an agreement on parenting plan, it will be accepted by the judge unless it is determined not to be in the child’s best interest. If you cannot reach an agreement, the judge will decide the issue, after considering the following factors:
- the emotional ties between the child and other family members
- the interest of the parties in, and attitude toward, the child
- the desirability of continuing an existing relationship
- any abuse of one party by the other
- the preference of the child
- each party's’ willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other party and the child, and
- the conduct, marital status, income, social environment, and lifestyle of a party, IF any of these factors cause or may cause emotional or physical damage to the child
Child support in Oregon
A decision must also be made about how the children will be financially supported. This almost always comes down to one parent paying money to the other. Child support is determined by reference to the Oregon Child Support Guidelines.
A Decree of Dissolution of Marriage does not become final until 30 days after it is entered, or the conclusion of any appeal, whichever occurs later.
If you and your spouse agree on the major issues, an online divorce may be right for you. Otherwise, you can talk to an attorney to get advice or help filing for divorce with the LegalZoom personal legal plan.