[column type=”one-half” last=”false”]When two people are joined in matrimony, the hope is that the union will last a lifetime. In a marriage, plans are made that often include having children and one day watching a son or daughter go off to college. But plans can change, and when a marriage doesn’t work out it can be heartbreaking.
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Oregon Divorce Laws
Ways To End A Marriage In Oregon
Alternative Divorce Resolution (ADR)
Child Support and Visitation
Marital Asset and Debt Division
Other Important Divorce Issues
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- ADR Available: Yes
- Fault or No Fault: No Fault
- Parenting Plan Required: Yes
- Property Distribution: Equitable
Grounds For Divorce
Couples in Oregon can get divorced under “no-fault” guidelines. This means that there is no need to prove a spouse acted unfavorably in the marriage or was the cause of the breakdown of the relationship. Officially, if ending the marriage, couples will cite “irreconcilable differences.”
Divorce Waiting Period
There is no waiting period in Oregon for divorce; however, there is a residency requirement of six months. This makes it necessary for one spouse to have lived in Oregon for six months prior to filing the motion.
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There are three ways to legally end a marriage in the state of Oregon including divorce, annulment and legal separation. For a simpler divorce that meets the requirements, a summary divorce, is available.
Divorce And Summary Dissolution
The courts in Oregon recognize two types of divorce – Dissolution of Marriage and a Summary Dissolution. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree to all the issues surrounding child support, visitation, marital property and alimony. If a spouse contests any issues, it may be necessary to seek the help of a divorce attorney to prepare for trial. In some instances, mediation can help to work through the contested elements.
If there is little property to divide and an agreement between each spouse on all the divorce issues, a summary dissolution may be a fitting option. Some of the other requirements to file this action include:
- There are no minor children
- The total combined assets must be less than $30,000
- No spouse wants to file for alimony
- The marriage must have been less than 10 years
Although having an official declaration that the marriage is terminated may take some time, the process can be faster if both spouses file jointly for divorce.
For couples that are not yet ready to divorce or for those that can’t get a divorce due to religious reasons, a legal separation can be an effective approach. A legal separation is different from a mere “separation.” When couples legally separate, assets are divided, child custody is decided and support is determined. The main difference between divorce and legal separation is that the marriage is not dissolved.
When a couple is legally separated, health benefits are still applicable to both spouses, regardless of which person carries the plan. Additionally, unless otherwise stated in the agreement, spouses may still have the right to inherit property from one another.
Annulments are less common than divorce or legal separation. In order to be granted an annulment in the Oregon court system, certain conditions need to exist and proof is required. There are two versions of getting an annulment – when spouses have children and when there are no children. Specific guidelines are in place for each condition.
A marriage is never legal in the case of bigamy and incest. If a union happens between two individuals that are close blood relatives, the marriage is considered “void.”
Other examples of conditions which may warrant an annulled marriage include:
- A person was mentally incompetent
- A person was forced into marriage
- A person committed fraud
- A person was under the age of 18 and without parental permission
It’s recommended to seek information from a divorce attorney to know if an annulment is a valid option to pursue.
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Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a less adversarial way to sort through the issues in a divorce. ADR is cost effective and can be a productive method that saves time. Three types of ADR are used in the Oregon court system including:
- Mediation. An impartial third party listens to the issues concerning spouses and offers knowledgeable solutions that will effectively produce solutions that work. The mediator will help the spouses communicate and resolve issues calmly.
- Arbitration. A neutral party, sometimes a judge, hears from each spouse on the issues at hand and then decides the outcome. The results can be binding (legal) and nonbinding. In the case of a nonbinding result, a court trial might be the next step.
- Settlement conference. This process usually involves a judge that will attempt to work through the issues based on the evidence rather than the emotions of each spouse. This step is just short of going to court.
ADR can be a great option for those with effective communication. Since there is less formality in ADR, it can help keep tensions low and preserve relationships.
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Child Custody Determinations
A divorce can disrupt the structure of the household and can especially change the lives of the children. To help parents transition through divorce, the state of Oregon mandates a parent education class. This session will discuss how divorce affects children both emotionally and developmentally. The class also helps parents to understand ways in which to co-parent after divorce.
The types of custody that can be granted in Oregon include:
- Sole legal custody. In this form of custody, one spouse is granted the right to make the important decisions for the children. Some of these choices can concern which schools to attend or medical decisions.
- Sole physical custody. When sole physical custody is awarded, one spouse has the right to be the only decision maker in all areas of parenting.
- Joint legal custody. Both parents share in the responsibility of making choices on behalf of the children in joint legal custody.
- Joint physical custody. Both parents have equal share and responsibility in the total welfare of the children in joint physical custody.
Oregon requires a parenting plan and, when both parents can agree on a plan, it can keep the power of determining custody with the spouses, rather than the court. The court can implement tools such as child mediation or a custody study to arrive at a sound outcome.
Visitation is defined by amount of time spent with the children. If a parent is awarded sole physical custody, he or she becomes the custodial parent. The other parent in this case is often granted visitation privileges. Some considerations the court will use to determine custody are:
- The emotional relationship between the children and parents
- The health of the caregiver
- The cooperation of each parent to support a stable home
- The safety of the children in each residence
- The attitudes of the parents towards the children
The court will factor in further information such as the criminal background of each parent and anything additional as it is relevant to assigning custody.
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Regardless of divorce, spouses are financially responsible for their children. A basic structure is used that helps determine the financial contribution of each parent. The court has the power to increase or decrease amounts, although generally, factors used to calculate child support include:
- Income of each parent
- Amount of alimony
- Medical care costs for the children
- The number of children
- The amount of parenting time (overnight visits)
- Other costs associated with raising children
Child support continues until the age of 18 in Oregon, unless children are enrolled in school. If attending classes, support will continue until the age of 21.
Child Support Enforcement
If a parent falls behind on child support payments or stops paying altogether, there are numerous consequences in place on a state and federal level to collect money owed. Some of the repercussions include:
- State and federal tax return collection
- A levy against bank accounts
- Income withholdings
- Driver’s license suspension
- Suspension of recreational and occupational licenses
- Credit reporting
- Passport denial or suspension
- Collection of lottery winning, an inheritance and insurance settlements
- Time in jail
Knowing paternity of children is important to establish accurate medical information about the father’s side of the family. This action is also critical in assigning the father the financial responsibility of child support. Children can benefit from having two parents contributing to their financial and emotional welfare. Establishing paternity is also necessary to pass on an inheritance, allocate funds from social security benefits and administer life insurance policies.
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Oregon has complicated laws governing property division, and the court has discretion based on the circumstances of each case. Property is defined as either marital or separate. All property acquired in the marriage and debts accrued fall under divisible items, regardless of who holds the title. The court uses a variety of factors to divide property including:
- The source of the property
- The contribution towards the acquisition of an asset
- Alimony paid by a spouse
- Life insurance coverage
- Taxes or liens on the property
- The costs of the sale of an asset
- Retirement benefits
In a short-term marriage, perhaps lasting less than two years, the court will divide property according to the original status of each spouse prior to the marriage.
Division Of Property
Oregon is not a community property state and instead divides assets and debts in an equitable manner. Equitable distribution means items are not divided down the middle but rather dispersed according to the financial needs of each spouse. Separate property that has appreciated during the marriage is also considered to be among marital assets.
Some of the assets and debts that are divided include:
- Real estate, family home and other property
- Commingled property, unless declared otherwise
- Household items including furniture and clothing
- Retirement assets
- Stocks, bonds, 401(k)s and similar accounts
- Collectible items
- Automobiles, motorcycles and boats
- Credit cards and other liabilities
There are exceptions to the rules on divisible marital and separate property in Oregon divorce cases. One of the safeguards for keeping separate property is having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Before signing contracts in regard to property division, it’s wise to first seek the advice of an experienced Oregon divorce attorney.
Alimony, or spousal support, refers to providing income to a spouse after a divorce to allow the person to maintain financial stability. Spousal support isn’t always awarded. In instances where one spouse made the bulk of the household money, the other person may be awarded alimony. The court will weigh many factors to determine if spousal support will be granted, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The ability of each spouse to be self-supporting
- Employability of each spouse and retraining costs
- The age and health of each spouse
The court has a large amount of discretion when it comes to spousal support and will use additional points as necessary to determine whether alimony will be granted or not.
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After a divorce is final, it is sometimes necessary to modify an agreement due to new circumstances. When a post-divorce modification is required, it is often because of a significant event. Some examples of situations that could change previously made divorce agreements include:
- Loss of employment
- A serious injury
- An employment transfer
Child custody, spousal support and visitation are common areas of change after the dissolution of marriage. It is not always a life-changing event that is the reason for modifying a contract. Sometimes, post-divorce modifications are made because one parent feels the custody agreement or another aspect of the post-marital situation isn’t working.
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Prenuptial And Postnuptial Agreements
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are not just for couples that have complicated property division or tremendous wealth. Both agreements represent ways in which to protect and plan for the future in the event of divorce. A prenuptial agreement is constructed before the marriage is legal and a postnuptial agreement is made after a couple has married. Benefits to constructing a marital agreement with a spouse include:
- Protecting intended beneficiaries
- Safeguarding a family business from division
- Diminishing the conflict over property matters
Oregon has a statue called Third Party Custody. This guideline gives grandparents the right to petition for visitation or custody under certain circumstances. In the case of petitioning for custody, the grandparents would have to prove the parents are not acting in the best interests of the children. For visitation, the court would need to see that a relationship is beneficial between the grandparents and the children.
[alert type=”danger” close=”false” heading=”Important Note”] Please be aware that the information on this page is provided for illustration purposes only and it does not constitute legal advice. If you would like more information about the divorce laws in Oregon or the process of filing for divorce, connect with an experienced local attorney today by filling out the contact form. We make it easy to find and connect with a local divorce attorney. It’s Free and Safe! [/alert]