Important Differences Between Oregon and California Divorce Laws

While both Oregon and California have many similar rules when it comes to getting a divorce, there are some differences that could potentially have a major impact on the way your divorce case is handled.

Residency Requirements

In order to get a divorce in the state of Oregon, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months. If the marriage occurred in the state, then no such requirement exists.

California also requires that at least one spouse has been a resident of the state for the six months leading up to the filing for divorce, and one spouse must have been a resident of the county in which they are filing for the three months immediately preceding the filing.

This is required no matter where your marriage took place. If you were a California resident for years but were married on a trip to another state, you should satisfy the requirements. Additionally, if you were married in another state, then moved to California, you can get divorced as soon as you have met the required timeframe. To file for separation in California, one spouse must be a resident of California. However, you can immediately file for a legal separation, unlike a divorce, which has a six-month residency requirement.

Waiting Period

California dictates a mandatory waiting period of six months for all divorces before the divorce can become final. Oregon previously had a statute that required a similar three-month waiting period, however that requirement has since been abolished.

Considering Fault

California is a no-fault divorce state; thus, you cannot seek a divorce based on alleged misconduct. While Oregon may consider fault within the context of dividing property or awarding spousal support, California is a pure no-fault state, which will not consider fault in any aspect of the divorce, unless it is a breach of fiduciary duty.

Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution

Maybe one of the biggest differences between California and Oregon divorce laws is how each state handles the distribution of assets in the divorce.

California is a community property state, which means that all property of the couple is considered to be owned equally by each spouse, or only by an individual spouse. The courts seek to provide an absolute 50/50 split of the property between the spouses. Therefore, each spouse has equal ownership of the property regardless of who earned it or which spouse’s name is on the title of it. Because California law views both spouses as one party rather than two, marital assets and debts are split 50/50 between the couple, unless they can agree on another arrangement.

In a California divorce, only assets that are considered marital property are divided. Marital property includes all the assets that both spouses have acquired during the length of the marriage.

Property that isn’t split up during property division is separate property, which includes assets acquired before the couple got married and gifts and inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage. Additionally, any assets and income that are acquired after the divorce is filed are not divided.

Community property laws simplify how to split assets between dividing spouses by considering all the assets that were accumulated by both parties. The value of these assets is added together and divided in half, then distributed to each spouse.

The state of Oregon adheres to the principle of equitable distribution. This means that the courts will seek to divide all assets equitably, or fairly, but not necessarily equally. Under some circumstances, a spouse may be awarded a percentage of the value of the property, rather than physically dividing the property for distribution purposes. However, out-of-state property, in a California divorce, is generally treated according to that state’s property laws.

Spousal and Child Support

California temporary spousal support is to maintain the living conditions and standards of both parties until permanent support has been determined, along with the final division of assets and debts. California permanent spousal support is to provide the spouse with sufficient income for their basic needs and to ensure that their lifestyle will be able to remain consistent after the divorce. The length of spousal support is based on a reasonable transition period from married life to a single and self-sufficient life.

The duration of support depends in part on the length of the marriage. For marriages lasting less than ten years, the length of support is presumed to be equal to one-half of the time they were married. For marriages longer than 10 years, the lesser-earning spouse will receive support for as long as he or she needs to, as long as the other spouse is able to pay. There is no automatic termination date.

Both Oregon and Washington use a calculator to determine child support, However, while Oregon allows leeway to deviate from the calculator to adjust it as needed, California does not allow for any deviation, except under the neediest situations.


California and the federal government have different tax laws about spousal support (also known as alimony). For California income taxes, the person paying support can deduct the payments. The person receiving support must report the payments as income. Federal income taxes - if you pay support, you cannot deduct the payments on federal income tax forms. If you receive support, you do not report the payments as income on federal income tax forms.

California state income taxes - the person paying support can deduct the payments. The person receiving support must report the payments as income. If you pay support, you can deduct the payments on your state income tax forms. If you receive support, you must report the payments as income on your state tax forms.

If you have further questions about the differences between Oregon and California divorce laws, our attorneys are here to help. Call our office at (503) 227-0200 to set up a free consultation today.