Below is a general summary of divorce in Oregon. This does not discuss “legal separation”.
- Grounds for Divorce. Oregon is a “no-fault” divorce state. The only allegation required is that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences”. It does not legally matter whether your spouse wants to divorce or not.
- Should you Leave the Family Home? This depends on the situation, and you should consult with Schrock Law Office prior to leaving the family home.
- Abuse Situations. There are self-help packets to obtain a restraining order against your spouse if there has been recent abuse and if you believe that there is a genuine danger or abuse. However, it is best to consult with an attorney first if possible.
- In order to divorce in Oregon you must have resided in Oregon at least 6 months, and the divorce must be filed in the county where either you or your spouse live.
- Filing for Divorce. The divorce is started by filing a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage”, along with the other documents that Oregon law requires. Self-help kits are available from Oregon courts for people that do not want or cannot afford to retain an attorney. The person that files the petition is called the “petitioner” and the other spouse is called the “respondent”. Generally the petition contains the names and addresses of the parties and their children, the specifics of the marriage, and a statement (usually general) of what is requested in the divorce. In most cases it is a good idea to discuss the divorce with us and with your spouse prior to filing so that it is not a surprise, and try to avoid a race to the courthouse to be the first one to file.
- Temporary Relief. We can ask the court to pay support money for you or your children, allow you use of the home and vehicle and provide various other types of relief while the case is pending. This is done by a written request to the court called a “motion”. The other spouse may object to the request and if there is an objection the court will hold a hearing to determine those matters. The parties may be able to avoid the hearing by resolving those issues.
- Unless the parties agree to joint custody (which is not uncommon) only one party will be awarded custody of the minor children. Joint custody by agreement is an option if the parents communicate well and cooperate with each other. In the absence of an agreement as to joint custody the court will determine custody according to the following factors:
(a) The emotional ties between the child and other family members;
(b) The interest of the parties in and attitude toward the child;
(c) The desirability of continuing an existing relationship;
(d) The abuse of one parent by the other;
(e) The preference for the primary caregiver of the child, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court; and
(f) The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.
- Parenting Plan. If you have minor children a parenting plan will be part of the judgment. The court will typically approve any parenting plan that has been agreed to by both parents. Consideration should be given to what is in the best interests of the children. Often, the parenting of the non-custodial parent or the non-primary parent will be on alternate weekends, with a schedule established for additional time during holidays and school vacation periods. Practical considerations, such as whether both parents live close to each other, are in the same school district, and availability of transportation to and from school should be taken into account if the non-custodial (or non-primary) parent desires weekday parenting.
- The court will require you and your spouse to attend a mediation to attempt to resolve custody and parenting time issues, unless you have already reached an agreement as to these issues.
- Child Support. There is a calculator at the Oregon Child Support Website (https://www.doj.state.or.us/child-support/) where you can calculate the amount of child support. You should use this calculator and play around with it enough so that you understand the potential range of child support involved in your situation. The court does not have to exactly follow the calculated amount based on the final figures, but the figure will usually be not too far from the figure calculated. Support goes until the child’s 18th birthday, but the support can be extended to age 21 if the child is attending school. Usually the support for a child attending school is paid directly to the child.
- Spousal Support. Oregon courts may provide for spousal support either during or following a divorce. Spousal support is often referred to as “alimony” in “common speak”. Spousal support is tax deductible by the paying spouse, and is treated as income by the receiving spouse. In general, spousal support is determined according to the following considerations:
(a) The duration of the marriage;
(b) Each party’s training and employment skills;
(c) Each party’s work experience;
(d) The financial needs and resources of each party;
(e) The tax consequences to each party;
(f) A party’s custodial and child support responsibilities; and
(g) Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.
- Property Division. In Oregon the court does a “fair and equitable” division of the marital assets. With limited exception, all property and income acquired during the marriage are marital assets, regardless of how the property is titled. Both debts and assets are taken into account.
- Attorney Fees. We bill hourly for services. You will be billed for preparing and filing documents, obtaining information from you, making recommendations, discussions with the other attorney or party, email correspondence, telephone calls, organization of financial records, preparation of exhibits, meetings, driving time to hearings or other proceedings, waiting time at any court hearing, attendance in court, and any other legal services provided on your matter. You are required to promptly pay our fees regardless of whether paperwork is filed requesting your spouse to pay our fees. Although the court will sometimes order another party to pay an amount to you as attorney fees, awards of the full amount of the fees billed in a divorce case are rare and should not be expected.