There really are no major differences between divorce and a legal separation in Oregon other than the fact that you are still married to your spouse with a legal separation, and the residency requirements involved with divorce.
In fact, the two are so similar that you may be able to ask the court to convert your separation into a divorce during the first two years of your separation without having to actually engage in the entire divorce process.
After two years of being legally separated from your spouse, however, you will need to actually file for divorce if you want to obtain a divorce from your spouse. If you want to bypass the separation and get a divorce immediately, then you may need to wait a bit before you can file for a divorce.
The state of Oregon requires anyone whose marriage happened outside of the state to either live in Oregon for six months or wait until their spouse has lived in Oregon for six months before they file for divorce.
However, if you were married in Oregon, then you can file right away for a divorce of your spouse or you currently live in the state. Oregon further simplifies the divorce process by only offering no-fault divorce; this means that you are not required to tell the court why you are getting divorced.
What Paperwork Do I Need to File for Divorce in Oregon?
The courts in Oregon have made forms available either online or at your local courthouse for all of the paperwork needed to start the divorce process. If you are already legally separated and looking to have your separation turned into a divorce, you will need to fill out and file various forms.
These include an Ex Parte Motion for Order to Show Cause Regarding Conversion of Judgment, an Affidavit in Support of Motion for Order to Show Cause Re: Conversion of Judgment, and a Record of Dissolution of Marriage.
While you do not have to tell your spouse about your plan to convert your separation into a divorce before filing for a divorce, you do need to complete an Order to Show Cause Regarding Conversion of Judgment. This must be done if you are choosing to not notify your spouse until your serve them with the conversion papers after filing them with the court and had the Order to Show Cause officially signed by the judge.
To obtain a divorce without converting a separation, you are required to complete and file a Petition; a Summons; a Record of Dissolution of Marriage, Annulment or Registered Domestic Partnership; a Confidential Information Form; and a Notice of Filing of Confidential Information Form.
If you and your spouse have children, then you will also need to file additional forms. These may include a Certificate of Mailing or Delivery to Division of Child Support if you or your spouse receive public assistance, as well as a Certificate re: Pending Child Support Proceedings or Existing Child Support Orders/Judgments.
Be sure that you fill out all of the correct forms, as there are different Petition forms for couples with children and couples without children. Just like with converting a separation to a divorce, you are under no obligation to inform your spouse that you are seeking a divorce until you are required to serve them the divorce papers that you filed with the court.
How are Community Property and Separate Property Treated in Oregon?
When you get divorced in Oregon, your marital property will be divided between you and your spouse, while any property that you have as separate property will generally remain unaffected. Property acquired by either you or your spouse during the marriage is usually considered to be marital property, with a few exceptions. Both spouses own marital property equally.
In comparison, separate property consists of property that you:
- Had before you got married;
- Received as a gift; or
In the state of Oregon, marital property is divided in an equitable, or fair, manner between the two spouses, rather than equally. This is because Oregon operates as an equitable property distribution state, and not a community property state like many of its neighbors.
When dividing marital property, a judge will consider whether one spouse will be receiving spousal support. This is because a spouse may be granted support in lieu of a share of a marital asset, the financial value of each of the marital assets, the cost of selling each asset, and any taxes associated with the marital property.
What Should I Do If We Have Children Involved in the Divorce?
If you and your spouse have kids, then the toughest issues you will likely deal with in a divorce are child custody and support for the child or children. Before any decisions associated with permanent custody and support are finalized, the court may require you and/or your spouse to attend parenting classes.
While considering which custody arrangement is best for the child, the court will examine a variety of factors. These can include the emotional closeness between each parent and the child, whether one parent has abused the other parent or the child, the attitude each parent has toward the child, the child’s preferences, and each parent’s willingness to encourage the child to continue a relationship with the other parent.
In the event that the court decides that joint custody is in the best interest of the child, both parents will need to agree to the terms of joint custody. If this is not possible, the court will be obligated to appoint sole custody to one of the parents.
The parent who does not have sole custody or has the child for a shorter period of time in a joint custody arrangement may be required to pay child support. This monetary amount is intended to serve as the parent’s fulfillment of their duty to financially support their child. It may cover the child’s expenses, and the financial obligation may even carry through the child’s attendance at college.
Do I Need to Pay Spousal Support or Alimony for a Divorce in Oregon?
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is money that one spouse is required to pay to the other after a divorce. The court can order the money to be paid in a lump sum, installments, or a combination of both. There are three basic types of spousal support in Oregon: transitional, compensatory, and spousal maintenance.
Compensatory support is money that is intended to compensate one spouse for significantly contributing to the education or increased earning capacity of the other spouse. Transitional support is intended to help one spouse while they are obtaining the education or training they need to be able to get a job after the divorce.
In the event that a spouse needs more financial support than what is traditionally offered through transitional support, the court may order spousal maintenance for a limited time period period or indefinitely.
As previously mentioned, the court may also choose to grant spousal support instead of giving the receiving spouse a portion of the marital property, if doing this is considered equitable. Spousal support can only end when a set termination date is reached or if either spouse dies.
However, a spouse paying support can also try end the support by filing a petition with the court if they have already paid support for more than 10 years and the receiving spouse has not tried to become financially independent of the support.
Where Can I Find the Right Divorce Lawyer in Oregon?
Going through a divorce can be a difficult and unpleasant experience. You may need help figuring out what to do, so it would be in your best interests to discuss the matter with a qualified Oregon divorce lawyer.
Your attorney can guide you through the divorce process and help ensure that you do not make any major mistakes along the way.