Oregon State FAQ for Ending the Marriage

What are the filing fees in Oregon State for a divorce, legal separation or annulment?

Oregon State filing fees: $273.00

What are the costs of parenting classes in Oregon State?

January 16, 2008- Many counties in Oregon require parents to complete a parent education class before a judgment can be entered in cases involving custody and parenting time of children. Locate and get information on how to contact a Parent or Child Divorce Education Program in your county by using this list

What is a divorce in Oregon State?

Divorce is a way of legally ending (dissolving) a marriage. After you have gone through all the steps in a divorce, you will get a divorce decree (also called a "Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage"), which is an order signed by a judge. The divorce judgment will usually state:

  • The date your marriage ends;
  • Who gets custody of the children and when the other parent sees them;
  • Who pays child support and how much;
  • If health insurance for the children will be paid and who will pay it;
  • Who should pay past bills;
  • How property (including retirement benefits) will be divided;
  • If one spouse must pay support to the other (spousal support or alimony).

What is the difference between a divorce and legal separation in Oregon State?

The main difference is that you are still married after a legal separation, so you cannot marry someone else. Also, you still have the right to inherit property "automatically" from your spouse if you are legally separated. If you are divorced you lose that right.

May I get an annulment in Oregon State?

Annulment is a way of legally ending, or canceling, a marriage. You can get an annulment only in very special cases. For example, you can annul your marriage if one of the spouses is already married or not old enough to legally marry. You cannot get an annulment just because your marriage is only a few days old or because you have not had sex with this spouse. Court costs for an annulment are about the same as for a divorce.

Are there any residency requirements for Oregon State?

In almost all cases, either you or your spouse must have lived in Oregon for six months before filing for divorce.

What if I cannot find my spouse?

You will have to prove to a judge that you have tried in many ways to find your spouse before a judge will let you go ahead with the divorce. If your spouse can't be found for personal delivery of the divorce papers, you will be able to end your marriage and (usually) get custody decided, but you will probably not get child support or any divorce terms which require your spouse to pay money or do something (such as transferring title to property).

In which county should I file my divorce?

You must file with the Circuit Court Clerk's office at the local county courthouse.

How long does an Oregon State divorce take?

An uncontested divorce (where you and your spouse do not disagree about the terms of the divorce) can be final approximately three months after the divorce petition is filed and delivered to your spouse. You may be able to reduce this time if the judge thinks you have a very good reason. If you and your spouse have agreed on the divorce terms and both signed the proposed final judgment, the judge can consider this a reason to waive the waiting period. A contested divorce (where you and your spouse are arguing about the terms of the divorce), could take much longer than three months because court hearings may be needed.

Do It Yourself Documents - Oregon State Annulment, Divorce & Legal separation FAQ

You and your spouse can agree on the division of property and debts. The judge will probably make your agreement part of the divorce judgment. If you do not agree, the judge will divide property.

The divorce judgment will probably state which spouse should pay the debt. But you both are responsible for making sure that the creditor gets paid. When you made the purchase you both agreed to pay, and a divorce judgment does not change the creditor's right to expect payment from both of you. If the bill is not paid, a creditor can ask for payment from both spouses. The creditor can also file a lawsuit against either one or both of you for the unpaid bill.

How does the court decide what is a just and equitable division of property and debts?

  • Where the property came from (gift, inheritance, purchase);
  • If one spouse owned it before the marriage;
  • If the spouses kept their money in joint bank accounts;
  • How much money each spouse is making now and is expected to make in the future;
  • Whether it would make sense for a specific item to go to the parent with custody. The law assumes that a spouse who cared for the couple's home and children has an equal right to have the property that the couple bought or was given during the marriage. This "equal right" rule also applies to the increased value of assets that were owned before the marriage. But one spouse can try to convince the judge that there are good reasons not to follow this rule in your case.

I bought our car and most other property with my income, so shouldn't the court award the car and other property to me?

Unless the spouses agree on what property is to be divided, the judge will divide all of the property that the couple owns -- any land or houses, motor vehicles, home furnishings, money in bank accounts, stocks and bonds, pensions and retirement benefits, lawsuit settlements, etc. The judge can even divide property owned by a spouse before the marriage, but usually it is given to that spouse. The judge also decides which spouse should pay which debts. If the spouses were living together when one spouse made the purchase, the other spouse is usually also responsible to the creditor and could be sued, too. The exceptions are for business expenses and loans of money. If the spouses were separated when one spouse signed for the debt, the other spouse is not responsible to the creditor unless the debt is for the children's education, health, or support needs.

My spouse had an affair that caused our divorce.

Oregon has "no fault" divorce. The only reason you need is that you and your spouse cannot get along, and you see no way of settling your problems. The law calls this "irreconcilable differences."

Since I'm not working right now, will the court order my spouse to pay me spousal support?

Under new laws passed in 1999, there are three different types of spousal support, and each has a different purpose. A dissolution judgment must label the award (more than one type can be ordered in the same case) and include facts that show why the award is appropriate.

  1. For transitional support, the judge looks at what support is necessary to help the spouse get an education or training to re-enter or advance in the job market.
  2. For compensatory support, the judge decides what will repay a spouse for a major financial or other contribution to the education, career, or earning ability of the other spouse.
  3. For spousal maintenance, the judge considers what support is appropriate to keep a standard of living similar to what was enjoyed in the marriage. This support could be ordered for a specific time, or permanently. Many factors affect this decision.

Your divorce judgment or spousal support judgment will say when spousal support ends. Depending on its purpose, support is sometimes ordered for a few years, sometimes until the spouse dies, and sometimes just until the spouse who gets support finds a job. Spousal support does not always end when the spouse who is getting support remarries.

Tax Information regarding child support, exemptions, spousal support and property transfers.

  • Child Support: You do not have to pay taxes on child support payments you get and you cannot deduct child support payments you make.
  • Exemptions: For recent divorce and custody cases, the parent who has legal custody has the right to claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes, but can sign a form to give the other parent this right. For older cases, the rules are different. For more information about exempts you should talk to a lawyer or call the IRS.
  • Spousal Support: You have to pay taxes on spousal support payments you get and you can deduct spousal support payments you make. The Internal Revenue Service has special rules about what payments qualify as spousal support for tax purposes.
  • Property Transfers: There are special tax rules about property transfers. For information about taxes, you can talk to a lawyer, accountant, tax preparer, or the IRS Taxpayer Information Service listed in your phone book.

Changing Names

  • Can spouse change their name? Yes. The judge must give you back a former name if you ask for it in a divorce.
  • Can I change my child's name in a divorce? Even if the mother gets custody and changes back her name in the divorce, the child most often keeps the name that is on the birth certificate. Many divorce judges will not change a child's name in a divorce case, especially when the other parent disagrees.
    If you want to change your child's name, you can file a separate legal case. The other parent of the child must be told about this lawsuit by receiving legal notice. The judge will allow the name change only if it is in the child's best interest.
    It may also be possible to change your child's name without going to court.
  • What if I want a completely new name for myself or child? You can't do it in a divorce. However, it is legal to just start calling yourself or your child by a new name as long as you are not doing it for an improper purpose (like to hide from creditors or to avoid the police). It is often better to file a separate name change case so you will have a court judgment you can use to change your identification. A name change done without going to court very often creates serious problems with Social Security or other government agencies, and might make it hard for you or your child to get benefits that you're entitled to.
  • Does my child have to have the father's last name? Parents often agree that their child will have the father's last name, but they can give their child any last name they want. If the parents can't agree, a judge can decide, but this usually happens only when the parents are unmarried. A father establishing paternity of the child does not have an automatic right to have the child bear his name. The judge can decide, based on what is best for the child.

Do I need a legal reason to get a divorce?

Oregon has "no fault" divorce. The only reason you need is that you and your spouse cannot get along, and you see no way of settling your problems. The law calls this "irreconcilable differences."

Can my spouse keep me from getting a divorce?

No. Your spouse cannot stop you from getting a divorce. But your spouse can contest (disagree with you about) issues in the divorce, such as child custody and support, spousal support, and property division. This can delay the divorce. In some counties, your spouse can ask the judge to postpone your divorce and order both of you to see a counselor.

Important terms

Summary Dissolution. "Summary" means without a hearing. This is for a dissolution case with limited issues. This may be used if all of the following statements are true for you:

  • Residency. You or your spouse are residents of Oregon and have been continuously for the past six months before filing the petition for dissolution.
  • Length of Marriage. You have been married to your present spouse no more than ten (10) years.
  • Children. You and your spouse have no minor children (under 18) born to or adopted by you and your spouse during or before the marriage. You and your spouse do not have any children age 18 years or older attending school.
  • The wife is not pregnant.
  • Real Property. Neither you nor your spouse owns any interest in real property (land or buildings) in Oregon or elsewhere. (Mobile homes on rented land are not real property.)
  • Personal Property. The personal property that you and your spouse own, individually or together, is worth less than $30,000 after deducting any money you owe on that property (like a car loan).
  • Debts. There are no unpaid debts greater than $15,000 incurred by you or your spouse from the date of the marriage.
  • Spousal Support. You, as the petitioner, give up all rights to spousal support (alimony).
  • Temporary Orders. You, as the petitioner, give up all rights to any temporary orders (such as support payments or exclusive use of marital property) except restraining orders and orders that allow exclusive use of the residence under the Family Abuse Prevention Act (ORS 107.700 to 107.730) or under the Elder and Disabled Person Abuse Prevention Act (ORS 124.005 to 124.040).
  • Other Divorce Actions. You are not aware of any other pending (not yet decided) divorce, annulment, or separation proceedings involving your marriage and filed in Oregon or in any other state.

Petitioner. Is the person who starts the court case by filing documents with the court.

Respondent. Is the person who answers the other party's court papers. If you were served with a petition and if you do not agree with ALL requests in the petition, you need to decide whether to file a "Response."Furthermore, if there are dependent children the Respondent is the person who answers the other parent's Petition to establish custody and parenting time under the statute for unmarried parents (ORS 109.103) and to establish child support. If you were served with such a Petition and if you do not agree with ALL requests in the Petition, you need to decide whether to file a "Response."

Response. Is a document that allows you to list your objections and to make requests. If you agree with everything in the Petition, you may not have to file a response.

Co-Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If both spouses want to file for dissolution (divorce) together and reach complete agreement regarding terms they request in the decree, this packet may be appropriate. Filing together as co-petitioners eliminates certain formalities such as needing to arrange to have documents served on the other spouse.

Legal Separation. A judgment of separation keeps intact a valid marriage but allows the parties to live apart, and may divide the parties' property, determine who owes debts, establish a parenting plan if there are children, and determine spousal and child support.

Paternity. Paternity ("fatherhood") may be established if the father signs and files a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (a statement that says he is the father) with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. Paternity ("fatherhood") may also be established through the Oregon Child Support Program or through the courts. You may request that the Oregon Child Support Program establish paternity by filling out an Application for Services (Form #CSF-0574), and sending it to the address stated on the form.

Petition. Lists the items you are asking the court to rule on.

Judgment. Is the document that finalizes your case, and contains your rights and responsibilities.

Divorce. A divorce is a way of legally ending (dissolving) a marriage. After you have gone through all the steps in a divorce, you will get a divorce decree (also called a "Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage"), which is an order signed by a judge. The divorce judgment will usually state:

  • The date your marriage ends;
  • Who gets custody of the children and when the other parent sees them;
  • Who pays child support and how much;
  • If health insurance for the children will be paid and who will pay it;
  • Who should pay past bills;
  • How property (including retirement benefits) will be divided;
  • If one spouse must pay support to the other (spousal support or alimony).