In Oregon, divorce is called a dissolution of marriage. If you and your spouse agree on everything, it can be a simple procedure. Or, it can get very messy as you try to sort out issues such as where your children will live and how to divide your property. You will need to follow state laws during the process.
Starting the Divorce Process
Oregon requires that you or your spouse live in the state for at least six months before you file for divorce. Your first step is to file a Petition for Dissolution with the appropriate court. If you and your spouse agree on your divorce, you may file a joint petition.
If you file on your own, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. If he or she agrees to sign the paperwork proving receipt, you can do this yourself. Otherwise you will need to arrange for the sheriff or another eligible adult to serve the petition. If you do not know where your spouse is, the court may allow you to serve the notice by an alternate method, such as publishing it in a newspaper. If your spouse does not respond within 30 days, the court may grant you everything you asked for.
If you already have a legal separation, you may request that the court convert that judgment into a dissolution of your marriage. You must make this request within two years of the original separation order.
Grounds for Divorce
Unlike some states, Oregon does not require that you allege fault on the part of your spouse. The only ground you must state are irreconcilable differences. This means that there are issues in your marriage that you cannot fix and the relationship cannot be saved.
Property Distribution Requirements
The state requires that marital property be distributed equitably and fairly in a divorce.
The court does not consider fault when determining equitability, but it may consider such things as:
- Children's needs
- Medical care or other costs each spouse anticipates
- Potential tax consequences
In general, all property acquired during the marriage, even if held in one spouse's name only, is marital property and subject to distribution. This includes vested pensions. The exception is gifts and inheritances given to one spouse only during the marriage.
Either spouse may request to change his or her name to one used before the marriage. The court may include this order as part of the final decree.
Your Final Divorce Decree
Once the judge signs and files the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, your divorce is final. This document outlines the terms of your divorce, including:
- Physical custody of the children
- Child support arrangements
- Parenting time arrangements
- Final distribution of property and debts
- Alimony or spousal support
If your circumstances change later, you may petition the court to modify aspects of the judgment. You will generally need to show good reason to do so.
Consider an Oregon Divorce Attorney
The decision to divorce is often an emotional one, but it can have many legal and financial consequences you may not anticipate. The facts in your case are unique to your marriage and will affect the best ways to proceed. If you have any questions, it is best to consult a divorce lawyer in Oregon who can help you understand the consequences and look out for your best interests.