Oregon Divorce Basics

Learn the basics of a divorce, or dissolution of marriage, in Oregon.

Grounds for Divorce

Oregon is a no-fault state, and the only ground for divorce is irreconcilable differences between the spouses.  Oregon recognizes registered domestic partnerships, but only for same-sex couples. Domestic partnership gives same-sex couples many of the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, but not all. The process for dissolving a registered domestic partnership is very similar to that of a divorce.

Residency Requirement and Waiting Period

In order to file for divorce in Oregon, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state at the time of the divorce filing. The divorce must be filed in the county in which one of the spouses lives.

Once a person has served (delivered) the summons and petition on their spouse, there is a mandatory 90 day waiting period before a trial can take place. If either spouse can show the judge that the final judgment of divorce should be entered before the 90 days are over because of necessity or emergency, the court has the discretion to waive the waiting period.

Property Division

Oregon is an equitable distribution state. Upon divorce, the court divides marital property equitably between the two spouses. This doesn’t necessarily mean the property will be divided in half—it depends on what the judge thinks is fair. However, there is a rebuttable presumption that both spouses have contributed equally to the acquisition of property during the marriage, even if one spouse did not work and bring in income, but instead was a homemaker. Unless one spouse presents evidence showing that the other didn’t contribute equally, the court will operate on the premise of equal contributions, and divide marital property accordingly.

Alimony

There are different kinds of spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, in Oregon: transitional spousal support, compensatory spousal support, and spousal maintenance. For transitional spousal support, one spouse supports the other during the education or training necessary for the receiving spouse to become self-supporting. The amount is based on what the supported spouse needs to complete the education or training.

Compensatory spousal support is ordered in cases where one spouse has significantly contributed to the other spouse’s education, training, and earning capacity. In that circumstance, the court looks to the amount, duration, and nature of the contribution, the extent to which the marital estate has already benefited from the contribution, and the relative earning capacities of the parties.

Spousal maintenance is the traditional spousal support payment from one spouse to the other for a period of time determined by the court. These payments can be in a lump sum or monthly, and can last for an indefinite period of time if the court finds that to be appropriate. The court would look at the length of the marriage, the health and age of the parties, each spouse's earning abilities, each spouse's needs and resources, and the standard of living that was established during the marriage.

Child Support

Judges calculates child support amounts by following guidelines provided by the legislature. The court considers each parent’s resources and financial needs, net income, ability to borrow, the number and needs of each parent’s dependents, whether either parent is dealing with any hardships (like care for an aging parent, children from another marriage, or an illness), and the needs of the child. You can find Oregon’s child support guidelines calculator on the Oregon Child Support Program website,  here.

Child Custody

Parents may have joint custody of the child, or one parent may have sole custody of the child while the other parent has visitation rights. In a custody dispute, the court looks at the following factors: each of the parents’ desire to continue the existing relationship with the child, the emotional ties between the child and family members, abuse of one parent by the other, and even the child’s desires.

In order for an existing custody order to be modified, a parent must show a change of circumstances and that the modification would be in the best interests of the child.  If either parent wishes to move with the child more than 60 miles from the other parent, the parent who wants to move must give the court and the other parent written notice. After the notice of intent to move, the other parent can ask the court for a change in the custody arrangement. The court would make a decision based on the best interests of the child.

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