Filing for Divorce in Oregon
No matter who you are or the circumstances surrounding your relationship, divorce is rarely ever associated with the terms “simple” or “easy.” Not only is emotional trauma usually inherent to the process, couples often have to wade through complex administrative red tape to make their divorce official.
Most couples who are looking to get divorced have no idea where to start or what to expect. The situation is further complicated by the fact that divorce laws can vary drastically from state to state, not to mention the terminology. Every state, including Oregon, has its own procedure and lingo with which couples must acquaint themselves in order to make fully informed decisions about their divorce.
Facts About Oregon Divorce
Thus, we have provided 10 important facts that you should know if you are considering getting a divorce in the State of Oregon:
- Divorces are not actually called “divorces” in Oregon. Legally ending your marriage is known as a “Dissolution of Marriage.”
- There are no plaintiffs or defendants in divorce. Unlike most court cases you hear about, the spouses involved in a divorce case are not called “plaintiffs” or “defendants.” There is a “petitioner” for the divorce and a “respondent” to the divorce. Additionally, spouses could also file for divorce as co-petitioners.
- There are no grounds for divorce aside from "irreconcilable differences." Irreconcilable differences are the only grounds for which a couple can file for a dissolution of marriage in Oregon. Oregon is what is known as a “no-fault divorce” state, meaning the courts do not recognize or consider any fault in making rulings regarding a divorce. So, if one spouse commits adultery, you cannot file for divorce on the grounds of your spouse being unfaithful in hopes to get a better settlement. Your divorce will still be based on “irreconcilable differences.” This also means the petitioning spouse does not have to provide any specific reasons in order to be granted a dissolution, even if the other spouse does not agree to the dissolution.
- There are only two criteria for divorce eligibility. You are only eligible to get a divorce in Oregon if you fulfill one of two possible criteria: If you were married in Oregon and at least one spouse still lives there, or if at least one of the spouses has lived in Oregon for a minimum of six months.
- Oregon dissolutions can either be contested or uncontested. A contested dissolution means one of the spouses does not agree to get a divorce or to certain aspects of how the divorce should be handled, such as the distribution of assets. An uncontested dissolution—also called a “Summary Dissolution”—occurs when the two spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce. Uncontested dissolutions are streamlined and much more simple than contested dissolutions, but couples must fulfill specific criteria in order to be eligible for a summary dissolution. We have discussed those eligibility requirements in a previous blog which you can read here.
- Domestic partnerships are recognized in Oregon and follow the same procedures as a dissolution of marriage outlined above.
- When it comes to the distribution of assets in a dissolution, Oregon is an “equitable distribution state.” This means that the courts will seek to divide the assets of the couple as fairly as possible. The key thing to understand about equitable distribution is that “fair” does not mean “equal.” Assets could be split 80/20 or they could be split 50/50, it simply depends on the circumstances of the divorce and each spouse’s financial situation.
- Alimony—sometimes known as spousal support—may not be considered necessary in an Oregon dissolution. However, if it is considered necessary, there are three different types of alimony that an Oregon court could award: transitional spousal support, compensatory spousal support, or spousal maintenance. We’ll cover more about the differences between these three types of alimony in a future blog.
- Mediation is often required in a divorce. An attempt at mediation is often required by divorce court judges in Oregon in contested dissolutions in order to allow couples the opportunity to resolve the various disagreements they may have regarding their divorce themselves.
- Common law marriages are not recognized in the State of Oregon. Common law marriage (in other states) is where a couple is legally considered married after living together for a specific period of time and intermingling property and other finances. However, if you have a valid common law marriage that was recognized in another state, then Oregon will consider it a valid marriage, including with regard to dissolution.
The Divorce Process in Oregon
If you are considering getting divorced in the State of Oregon, contact Pacific Cascade Legal today and let us guide you through all of the nuances and potential challenges you may face.
Some things to keep in mind when considering divorce:
Hire an Experienced Divorce Lawyer
There’s a reason this one comes first on the list. Hiring a divorce attorney immediately means that you have more time to prepare with a professional who can help you to build your case. A good divorce attorney will also be able to expand on this list and tell you what you need to do in your specific circumstances.
Save Up or Set Aside Money
Divorce can be expensive. You’re going to need to pay your divorce attorney, of course, but there are a number of other expenses that could come up, including moving expenses if you end up needing to leave your home and get an apartment.
An experienced Portland divorce lawyer can also examine the joint accounts you hold with your spouse and tell you what you are entitled to immediately—not after the divorce. Generally speaking, withdrawing 50% of the funds in your joint savings to pay for living expenses and costs associated with the divorce is considered acceptable.
Open Individual Accounts
You’ll need somewhere to put that money you withdraw from your joint account, so set up a bank account that’s only in your name. This also applies to email and cell phones.
You want ways for people to contact you that your spouse doesn’t have access to. And if you don’t have one already, opening a credit card that only you have access to is a good idea as well. Speaking of which:
Cancel All Joint Credit Cards
While this is hopefully not something that will happen in your case, it’s not unheard of for one spouse to run up credit bills and try to hold their partner liable. Canceling as many joint liabilities and lines of credit you can protect you. Just to be safe, have your credit report monitored by a company just in case you missed something and your spouse does become vindictive.
Keep Paying Bills
Ideally, you want to sell off as much joint property as you can to avoid headaches, but for some things that just won’t be possible. Because of this, make sure you contact companies that handle any loans (cars, homes) or other bills and have a duplicate copy sent to you. You don’t want your credit ruined because your spouse decides to be spiteful and stop paying.