One spouse's infidelity can spell the end of a marriage. Adultery and divorce in Oregon often go hand-in-hand, and when one (or both) spouses have cheated, it's possible that the adultery will affect the outcome of the divorce, including any potential award of alimony. Every state's alimony laws are different; here's a breakdown of how Oregon's alimony laws address adultery.
Courts may award alimony (also called "spousal support" in Oregon) when one spouse has a demonstrated financial need and the other spouse ("paying spouse") has the ability to pay. Oregon judges can award alimony both during the divorce proceedings and after the divorce is final.
Oregon divorce laws recognize several different types of spousal support. The factors a judge will consider depends on the type of support being awarded.
"Transitional support" is designed to help a spouse become financially independent and is usually awarded on a temporary basis during a divorce or while one spouse completes an education. For a transitional support award, a judge will consider the following:
(Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 107.105(d)(A) (2021).)
Sometimes, spouses contribute to the other spouse's education, job training, or career. For example, one spouse might have worked two jobs while putting the other spouse through medical school. In these situations, Oregon judges can award "compensatory spousal support" after considering the following:
(Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 107.105(d)(B) (2021).)
"Spousal maintenance" is general support that is not transitional or compensatory. Factors Oregon judges consider when awarding this general spousal maintenance include:
In Oregon, adultery won't have a direct impact on your alimony award. Marital misconduct such as adultery affects alimony only when it is relevant to one of the factors the court considers when determining alimony (discussed above). For example, in one Oregon case, a husband broke his wife's ankle during an argument, and the court said it would only consider the injury if the broken ankle affected the wife's ability to work.
It can be hard to prove that an affair created one spouse's need for alimony. However, if an unfaithful spouse spent tens of thousands on gifts for and vacations with a lover, a judge may offset the adulterous spouse's property award or order compensatory alimony in divorce if the emotional impact of the affair was so great that it hurt the other spouse's ability to hold a job.
Oregon, like every other state, allows "no-fault" divorces. In a no-fault divorce, the judge does not consider whether a spouse's behavior or misconduct caused the divorce. Rather, a spouse seeking a no-fault divorce has to claim only that the couple has "irreconcilable differences," meaning that they can't get along. Neither spouse is blamed for causing the divorce. (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 107.025 (2021).)
Oregon recognizes only no-fault divorce—there is no such thing as a fault-based divorce in Oregon. This means that a spouse can't bring up the other spouse's marital misconduct unless it relates to child custody or property division.
The needs and best interests of a child are central to any custody decision. When determining child custody, a judge will look at the child's relationship with each parent, the child's ties to the community, and each parent's ability to provide stability, among other factors. Usually, a parent's fidelity is irrelevant when determining which parent is best able to meet the child's needs. However, courts will—in very limited circumstances—consider information about a parent's affair if the parent's behavior somehow endangers the child.