If the marriage was not performed in Oregon, 1 of the spouses must have been a resident of Oregon for 6 months immediately prior to filing. If the marriage was performed in Oregon and either of the spouses is a resident at the time of filing, there is no durational residency requirement. The dissolution of marriage may be filed in a county where either spouse resides. There is a 90-day waiting period before a hearing will be scheduled which begins after the respondent has been served with papers or the publication of the summons.
Legal Grounds for Divorce
- No Fault Divorce: Irreconcilable differences between the spouses which have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Misconduct of the spouses will only be considered when child custody is an issue or if necessary to prove irreconcilable differences.
- General Divorce:
- Consent to marriage was obtained by fraud, duress, or force
- minor married without lawful consent
- spouse lacked mental capacity to consent [including temporary incapacity resulting from drug or alcohol use].
Misconduct of the spouses will only be considered when child custody is an issue.
Legal Separation in Oregon
The grounds for legal separation (separation from bed and board) in Oregon are irreconcilable differences between the spouses which have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The spouses may enter a separation agreement to live apart for at least 1 year. At least 1 of the spouses must be a resident of Oregon when the action for legal separation is filed. The legal separation may be filed for in a county where either spouse lives.
Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Oregon
The spouses may qualify for a summary dissolution of marriage procedure if the following qualifications are met:
- the residency requirements are fulfilled
- There are no minor children, born or adopted, and the wife is not pregnant
- the marriage is not over 10 years in length
- neither spouse owns any real estate
- there are no unpaid debts in excess of $15,000 incurred by either or both spouses during the marriage
- the total value of all of the spouse’s personal property is less than $30,000, excluding any unpaid balances on loans
- the petitioner waives the right to spousal support (alimony)
- the petitioner waives the right to any pendente lite (preliminary) orders, except for the prevention of spouse abuse (temporary court orders pending the final divorce)
There are specific mandatory forms for filing for summary dissolution of marriage that are available from the clerk of the court in each circuit. Separation agreements are also expressly authorized. In addition, in all other cases, the spouses can jointly file for a dissolution of marriage.
Mediation in Oregon
Certain Oregon courts offer conciliation services. If a court does offer such services, either spouse or the court may delay the dissolution of marriage proceedings for 45 days while a reconciliation or settlement is attempted. In addition, if child custody or child support issues are contested, the court will refer the parents to mediation for up to 90 days.
Oregon is an “equitable distribution” state. All of the spouses’ property is subject to division by the court, including any gifts, inheritances, and property acquired prior to the marriage. Regardless of whether the property is held jointly or individually, there is a presumption that the spouses contributed equally to the acquisition of any property, unless shown otherwise. All property will be divided, without regard to any fault of the spouses, based on the following factors:
- the cost of any sale of assets
- the amount of taxes and liens on the property
- the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker
- any retirement benefits, including social security, civil service, military and railroad retirement benefits
- any life insurance coverage
- whether the property award is instead of or in addition to spousal support
Alimony and Spousal Support
Either spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support to the other spouse, without regard to marital fault. The factors for consideration are:
- the need for and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment to become self-supporting and that spouse’s future earning capacity
- the standard of living during the marriage
- the duration of the marriage
- the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market
- the tax consequences to each spouse
- the age of the spouses
- the physical and emotional conditions of the spouses
- the usual occupation of the spouses during the marriage
- the vocational skills and employability of the spouse seeking support
- any custodial and child support responsibilities
- the educational level of each spouse at the time of the marriage and at the time the divorce is filed for
- any life insurance
- the costs of health care
- the extent that a spouse’s earning capacity is impaired due to absence from the job market to be homemaker and the extent that job opportunities are unavailable considering the age of the spouse and the anticipated length of time for appropriate training
- the contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including services rendered in homemaking, childcare, education, and career-building of the other spouse
- any long-term financial obligations, including legal fees
- any child support obligations
- any other factor the court deems just and equitable
If a spouse has been out of the job market for a long time while acting as homemaker and the other spouse has an economically advantageous position due to joint efforts of both spouses, spousal support will be awarded as compensation. The spouse receiving spousal support must make a reasonable effort to become self-supporting within 10 years or the support may be terminated. The court may order the spouse to pay the support to carry life insurance with the other spouse as beneficiary. In addition, a spouse may have a right to continued health insurance coverage under the other spouse’s policy.
Joint custody, joint responsibility for the child, and extensive contact between the child and both parents is encouraged. Joint or sole custody is determined based on the best interests of the child and the following factors:
- the love and affection existing between the child and other family members
- the attitude of the child
- the desirability of maintaining continuity
- any spouse abuse
- the relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members
- the parent’s interests and attitudes towards the child
The conduct, income, social environment, and lifestyle of the proposed guardian is to be considered only if it is shown to cause emotional or physical damage to the child. No preference is to be given because of parent’s sex. The court will not order joint custody unless both parents agree to the terms of the custody.
Either parent may be ordered to pay child support, based on the following factors:
- the ability of each parent to borrow
- the parent’s earnings history
- the reasonable necessities of each parent
- the physical, emotional, and educational needs of the child
- the relative financial means of the parents, including their income, resources, and property
- the potential earnings of the parents
- the needs of any other dependents of a parent
- any social security or veteran’s benefits paid to the child
- any other relevant factors
There are official child support scales and formulas available. The child support payments may be required to be paid through the clerk of the court. There may be court orders issued to withhold wages to pay for the child support. Every child support award must also contain provisions for the payment of any uninsured medical care for the child and the payment of health insurance for the child. The court may also order the parent required to pay support to maintain life insurance coverage with the child as beneficiary.