Divorce – State FAQ – Oregon
Residency requirements, venue and procedures
Q: How long must I have lived in Oregon prior to filing for divorce in an Oregon court?
A: If the marriage was not solemnized in the State of Oregon, at least one of the parties to the marriage must have resided in Oregon for at least six continuous months immediately prior to the filing of the petition. If the marriage was solemnized in the State of Oregon, there is no length of residence requirement for either party as long as one party is a resident.
Q: What are the terms used to identify the parties in a divorce proceeding?
A: The party filing the action is called the Petitioner, while the other party to the divorce is referred to as the Respondent. If the petition is filed jointly, the parties are known as the co-petitioners.
Q: What is “venue,” and what is the proper venue for a divorce case?
A: “Venue” refers to which type of court and in what locality the case is filed. In Oregon, proper venue for the divorce action is the Circuit Court. A petition for dissolution may be filed in the county where either party resides.
Q: What is the title of the document initiating the action for divorce? The order granting the divorce?
A: The title of the document initiating the divorce proceeding is a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, while the title of the order granting the divorce is referred to as the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
Q: Are there any waiting periods associated with a divorce action?
A: Generally, there is a ninety day waiting period from the date of service of the summons and petition upon the respondent or the first publication of the summons to the trial or hearing on the merits of the dissolution petition. The court may, however, upon written motion supported by affidavit, waive the waiting period. In addition, if the parties have filed the dissolution petition jointly or the respondent has waived further appearance or permits a default judgment to be taken, the court may enter a judgment of dissolution upon affidavit of the petitioner or co-petitioners.
Grounds for divorce
Q: What is meant by “grounds for divorce”?
A: A “ground” for divorce is a “reason” for divorce. A set of judicially recognized reasons for divorce exist in Oregon. You must use one or more of these reasons to justify your divorce.
Q: What are the recognized grounds for divorce in Oregon?
A: The State of Oregon permits a judgment of dissolution of marriage to be granted upon the following grounds:
1. When either party to the marriage was incapable of entering into the marriage contract because the party was under the legal age to so contract or due to insufficient understanding;
2. When consent to the marital contract was obtained by force or fraud; and
3. Irreconcilable differences which have caused an irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
Q: Does Oregon law provide for a simplified divorce procedure?
A: Yes. But strict conditions must be met. For a review of these conditions please see the Oregon Divorce Information section on the Oregon Divorce Main Page.
Q: What does the term “spousal support” (or, “alimony”) mean?
A: “Spousal support” (sometimes called “alimony”) is money paid by one spouse to the other due to the payee spouse’s loss of the benefit of the payor spouse’s income due to the divorce.
Q: Is spousal support available while the divorce is pending in court, or only after the divorce has become final?
A: The court may order that one spouse support the other during the pendancy of the divorce action and/or after the divorce has become final. Support awarded pending the final decree of divorce is not to extend beyond the period of time necessary for the prosecution of the divorce action.
Q: What factors will the court consider when determining how much alimony to award to a party?
A: Either party to a dissolution proceeding may be ordered to pay alimony to the other. Said support may be in gross amount or in installments, or both. Oregon recognizes three categories of alimony. These categories and the factors used by the court in determining which are available and in what amount are discussed in the divorce information section of the Oregon Divorce Main Page.
Q: On what basis does the court decide how marital property is divided?
A: Oregon is a solaced “equitable distribution” state. This means that the division of property and debts between the divorcing parties should be fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. The court will divide all of the property of the parties, whether jointly or separately held, as it deems equitable and just. There is a rebuttable presumption that both spouses contributed equally to the acquisition of property during the marriage. Prior to distribution, the court will require full disclosure of all assets owned by the parties.
Q: Is the “separate property” of one spouse subject to being divided up?
A: It depends. The question here is whether property “belonging to” one of the parties should be included in the marital estate for purposes of an equitable division. Generally, separate property acquired before the marriage or by gift or inheritance during the marriage may be excluded from the marital estate if neither the property nor its income has been used for the common benefit of the parties during their marriage.
Q: What if the parties occasionally use an item of separate property (for example, silver table utensils inherited by the wife) for the benefit of both parties?
A: The property may be subject to division. Where the parties regularly use property acquired by one party before marriage for the common benefit of the parties, it is more likely to be available for consideration in dividing property. The frequency of use may be considered by the court in making the decision.
Child custody and visitation
Q: What is child custody and visitation?
A: “Child custody” refers to which parent will have legal custody of the child(ren), i.e. with whom the child(ren) will live. “Visitation” is the topic of the non custodial parent’s ability to visit/spend time with the child(ren).
Q: If the parents cannot agree on child custody and visitation issues, on what basis will the court decide?
A: No preference shall be given to either parent based solely on the parent’s status as father or mother. Custody of minor children of the marriage will be determined according to the best interests of the children. Factors the court will consider in determining the child’s best interests include:
1. The emotional ties between the child and other family members;
2. The interests of the parties in and attitude toward the child;
3. The desirability of continuing an existing relationship;
4. The abuse of one parent by the other;
5. The preference of the child;
6. The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and other parent.
Q: What is “child support”?
A: Child support is money paid by the non custodial parent to the custodial parent in order to meet the needs of the child(ren).
Q: To what should the parties look for guidance regarding amount of child support to be paid? What standard will the court use if the parties cannot agree?
A: Oregon has enacted child support guidelines which establish the presumptive correct amount of child support to be paid for each minor child.