Area of Law:
Filing for divorce is never an easy decision. To begin a divorce proceeding in Oregon, a spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage with the clerk at the circuit court. You should file the petition at the court located in the county where you or your spouse lives. The spouse filing the petition is the petitioner and the other spouse is the respondent. To be eligible to file a divorce petition in Oregon, you or your spouse must live in Oregon for at least six months before you file. In addition, after the petitioner files the divorce petition, the petitioner must serve a copy of the petition on the respondent. You can obtain a divorce petition by visiting the court’s website http://courts.oregon.gov/OJD/OSCA/cpsd/courtimprovement/familylaw/FL_Div...?. Oregon is a no-fault divorce state, and spouses do not need to give the court a reason for choosing to file for divorce. Therefore, when you file the divorce petition, the petitioner should state that the divorce is a result of irreconcilable differences.
When you file the divorce petition, you will be required to pay a filing fee. The filing fee for a divorce petition differs in each county in Oregon. Generally, the filing fees range from $100 to $400. However, your local circuit court clerk will be able to give you an accurate filing fee for your county. If you are unable to pay the filing fee due to financial hardship and if you can show proof of your low-income status, the court may waive the filing fee.
After you serve the respondent with a copy of the divorce petition, Oregon’s 90-day waiting period begins. This waiting period is mandatory for all divorces. However, the court has the option to waive the waiting period if both parties agree and the divorce is uncontested, meaning both parties agree to all issues of the divorce. If the divorce is contested, or involves many complex issues, a divorce can take six months to a year to become final in Oregon.
One of the issues that may arise during an Oregon divorce proceeding is the division of assets. While Oregon is not a community property state, courts do divide marital property in a similar way. For example, Oregon follows the presumption of equal contribution, meaning the law presumes that each spouse has a one-half interest in all marital property, similar to community property. In addition, the court distributes all debts according to whether the debts are personal debts or marital debts. Any debts acquired after the date of separation will be personal debts.
If you and your spouse can agree about the division of the marital property, consider drafting a marital settlement agreement. In Oregon, the court does not need to approve the marital settlement agreement for it to become effective. However, agreeing on settlement terms is often the hardest part of a divorce proceeding. Therefore, the court may recommend both spouses attend mediation to try to resolve any contested issues.