Here's what you need to know to get started with your Oregon divorce (also called a "dissolution of marriage").
You must meet a state's residency requirements before you can file for divorce in its courts. If you were married in Oregon and either you or your spouse is a resident of Oregon at the time you file for divorce, you meet Oregon's residency requirements.
If you weren't married in Oregon, though, at least one spouse must reside in Oregon for six continuous months before filing for divorce. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 107.075 (2021).) You must file in a county where one of you lives.
Oregon is a "no-fault" divorce state—meaning that the courts don't require one spouse to prove that the other's bad acts were the cause of the divorce. No-fault divorces reach resolution faster than fault-based divorces because the spouses don't have to argue about or prove who was responsible for the divorce. Also, with a no-fault divorce, you don't have to have your spouse's consent to end the marriage.
An Oregon court will grant a divorce when "irreconcilable differences" between the parties have caused the marriage to break down, and there is no hope that the couple will get back together. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 107.025 (2021).)
Generally, there are two types of divorce—contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one where the spouses agree on all divorce-related matters, such as division of property, child custody, and spousal support. A contested divorce, on the other hand, is one where the spouses can't agree and must ask a court to decide the issues in their divorce.
Uncontested divorces are usually faster and less expensive than contested divorces because there's no fighting in court. Instead, the judge needs only to review and approve the spouses' marital settlement agreement and issue a divorce decree.
To start an uncontested divorce in Oregon, you'll need to file the required paperwork in the circuit court clerk's office at your local court. You can file on your own, or (because you and your spouse agree on all the issues in your divorce) you can file with your spouse as "co-petitioners." However, if you choose to file as co-petitioners, the Oregon courts recommend contacting a lawyer.
You'll need to file:
Depending on your situation, you might have to file different or additional forms—it's always a good idea to check with the court clerk to make sure you have everything you need. You can download forms and instructions from the Oregon Judicial Branch's website.
Oregon uncontested divorces usually take about three months after filing to finalize.
Oregon also has an expedited form of uncontested divorce called "short-form summary dissolution." Couples who qualify for short-form summary dissolution can end their marriage without ever having to appear in court. To qualify, the following must apply:
(Or. Rev. Stat. § 107.485 (2021).)
A contested divorce begins when one of the spouses files a petition with the court. Many of the documents you need for a contested divorce are the same as those required for an uncontested divorce. Whatever issues you and your spouse don't agree on will be decided by a judge.
After the non-filing spouse responds to the divorce petition, the court will likely schedule a conference hearing. If you and your spouse don't resolve your issues while the divorce is pending, the court will schedule your case for trial.
It can take six months to two years to finalize a contested divorce in Oregon.
You'll have to pay court filing fees to begin your divorce. As of 2021, Oregon courts charge $301 to file a dissolution of marriage. Because filing fees change often, you'll want to get the current fee schedule from the clerk of the court where you'll be filing your petition. Most of the time, you'll pay the filing fee at the same time you file the petition.
If you can't afford to pay the filing fees, you can ask the judge to waive the fees. You can request a fee waiver by filing an Application for Deferral or Waiver of Fees & Declaration in Support. Oregon courts provide detailed instructions online.
Once you file the paperwork, you will need to provide notice to your spouse of the divorce. Oregon has two ways to give your spouse notice of the divorce.
If attempts to serve your spouse are unsuccessful, you can ask the judge for permission to serve your spouse in another way, such as by publication or posting.
If you're working with an attorney, your attorney will assess your situation and fill out, file, and serve all the necessary forms.
Many divorcing couples can't afford to hire an attorney to handle their entire case, but would like some assistance with completing and filing their forms. If this describes your situation, consider using an online divorce service or finding an attorney who will consult with you on an as-needed basis. Low-income individuals might qualify for reduced-fee or free legal aid.