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Oregon

Grounds for Divorce Under Oregon Divorce Laws

In the State of Oregon a judgment of dissolution of marriage (a fancy way of saying “divorce”) may be granted for the following reasons/grounds:

  1. At the time of the marriage, either spouse was incapable of entering into the marriage contract due to being under the legal age of consent to marry or were unable to fully understand the marriage contract.
  2. Consent to the marital contract was obtained by force or fraud.
  3. Irreconcilable differences which have caused an irreversible breakdown of the marriage.

Under Oregon divorce laws, the first two grounds are considered “fault” grounds, which means that one of the parties was at fault.

The third ground is called the “no-fault” grounds, as it is simply the inability of both spouses to maintain their marriage.

Residency Requirements

If you were married outside of Oregon, you and/or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least six continuous months immediately prior to the filing of the petition. 

If the marriage was celebrated within the state, there is no length of residence requirement as long as one of you is a resident at the time of filing. If neither of you reside in Oregon, you may not file for divorce in this state.

Venue

A divorce action may be file in the county where either you or your spouse resides.

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

An action for dissolution of marriage is filed in the Circuit Court. The Petitioner is the spouse who files and the Respondent is the spouse who does not file, but is served. If the action is filed jointly, both parties are referred to as Co-Petitioners

The initial pleading in a divorce action is called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The final order granting the divorce is called a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

Legal Separation

Oregon divorce laws permit judgments of legal separation to be granted upon the grounds of irreconcilable differences between the parties that have caused a temporary or unlimited breakdown of the marriage. This is a viable option for those of you who are unable or unwilling to get a divorce for whatever reasons.

Waiting Period

Generally, there is a 90-day waiting period from the date the summons is served to the respondent or the first publication of the summons to the trial or hearing on the merits of the dissolution petition.

The court may, however, upon written motion supported by affidavit, waive the waiting period. In addition, if the parties have filed the dissolution petition jointly, or the respondent has waived further appearance or permits a default judgment to be taken, the court may enter a judgment of dissolution upon affidavit of the petitioner or co-petitioners.  

Summary Dissolution Proceedings

A marriage may be dissolved by summary proceedings in the State of Oregon when the following conditions are met:

  • The parties seek dissolution based upon irreconcilable differences and the residence requirements are met
  • There are no children of the marriage and the wife is not pregnant
  • The marriage has not existed for more than 10 years
  • Neither party has any interest in real property
  • There are no unpaid obligations in excess of $15,000 incurred by either or both parties since the date of marriage
  • The total aggregate fair market value of all personal property assets of either party does not exceed $30,000
  • The petitioner waives any right to spousal support
  • The petitioner waives any right to pendente lite orders
  • The petitioner knows of no other pending domestic relations suit involving the marriage in the State of Oregon or any other state

Alimony

The courts may order one spouse to pay alimony to the other on a temporary or permanent basis. The amount and term of alimony is decided on a case-by-case basis as per an agreement between both spouses or at the discretion of the court. The State of Oregon recognizes three types of alimony.

1. Transitional Support:

This is meant to assist one spouse attain education and training necessary for reentry into the job market or advancement therein. The court will consider the following factors in awarding this type of support:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • A party’s training and employment skills
  • The financial needs and resources of each party
  • Tax consequences to each party
  • Custodial and child support responsibilities
  • Any other factor deemed relevant and just

2. Compensatory Support:

This shall be ordered to compensate one spouse for significant financial or other contributions to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning capacity of the other spouse. The court will consider several factors including but not limited to the following:

  • The amount, duration, and nature of the contribution
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The relative earning capacity of the parties
  • The extent that the marital estate benefited from the contribution
  • Any other factor deemed relevant and just

3. Spousal Maintenance:

A contribution by one spouse, which is meant to support the other spouse for a specified or indefinite period. Factors the court will consider in awarding this type of support include:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age of the parties
  • The physical, mental and emotional health of the parties
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The relative income and earning capacity of the parties
  • A party’s training and employment skills
  • A party’s work experience
  • The financial needs and resources of each party
  • The tax consequences to each party
  • A party’s custodial and child support responsibilities
  • Any other factor deemed relevant and just

Distribution of Property

The court will divide all of the property of the parties, whether jointly or separately held, as it deems equitable and just. There is a rebuttable presumption that both spouses contributed equally to the acquisition of property during the marriage. 

This means that the court assumes this to be true unless someone comes forward to contest and disprove it. Prior to distribution, the court will require full disclosure of all assets owned by both parties. 

Child Custody

Custody of minor children of the marriage will be determined according to the best interests of the children. Factors the court will consider in determining the child’s best interests include:

  • The emotional ties between the child and other family members
  • The interests of the parties in and attitude toward the child
  • The desirability of continuing an existing relationship
  • The abuse of one parent by the other
  • The preference of the child
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent

In addition, any order or judgment providing for custody must include provisions addressing the issues of payment of uninsured medical expenses, maintenance of insurance or other security for support, and maintenance of health insurance for the child.  

Child Support

Oregon has enacted child support guidelines, which establish the reasonable monthly amount of child support to be paid for each minor child. The monthly support amount is then divided proportionally according to each parent’s income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child.

When the court determines the appropriate support amount it will use the current state child support guidelines and also consider the following factors:

  • The opportunity each parent has to borrow funds
  • The earning capacity of each parent
  • The income history of each parent
  • The overall needs of the child
  • The needs of any other dependents
  • Any other relevant factors

Part of your child support order may also require that you have a life insurance policy with the children as the beneficiaries to ensure future support.

Anyone who violates child support orders or visitation orders may incur a fine, be imprisoned, or suffer any other penalties in accordance with Oregon law.

Mediation

If there are any disagreements in the matters of custody, parenting time, or visitation, the court may refer you and your wife to mediation in an attempt to resolve these conflicts.

Name Change

The court will change the name of a party to any former or maiden name upon request.  

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