A Guide to Divorce in Oregon
This is a complete guide to divorce in Oregon.
In this guide, you’ll get educated on exactly how divorce works in Oregon.
Specifically, we’ll cover the differences between divorce and legal separation, types of divorce, overview of the process, how much it costs, and a whole lot more.
So if you want to make sure you have a lay of the land (and steer clear of the landmines), we’ve got you covered.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
- The differences between divorce, annulment and separation
- What are the grounds for divorce in Oregon?
- Deciding what kind of divorce you will go through
- The process of filing for divorce
- How to complete proof of service
- Filing for a divorce online
- How much does divorce cost in Oregon?
- How long does it take to get a divorce?
- Should I retain the services of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst?
- Bifurcation of Marital Status
- Can I cancel, refuse, contest, stop or reverse a divorce in Oregon?
- What is a divorce decree?
- What is a divorce certificate?
- Changing Your Name
- Bonus: Recommended Resources for a Better Divorce
The differences between divorce, annulment and legal separation
Married couples can end their marriages by divorce or annulment in Oregon. Legal separation is also permitted, but a couple will still remain married after this action takes place.
This involves more than just physically separating from a spouse in Oregon. An actual court action is required to put legal provisions in place.
Legal separation does not end a marriage, but it does require that things like a division of assets, child custody, and support be decided as if a marriage were actually being dissolved. It requires the execution of a document that is legally binding and signed by both spouses.
In many cases, legal separation provides a much-needed time out that allows two people to try and resolve their issues in a less combative environment.
Spouses may also choose legal separation for religious reasons. Some religions do not look favorably upon divorce and staying married though legally separated puts less pressure on a couple who might otherwise be in conflict with their church and religious beliefs.
Legal separation may also offer financial benefits as well, such as being able to keep health insurance, or by continuing to file as a married couple on tax returns.
If a person is not a U.S. citizen and they get a divorce, they run the risk of deportation. But with a legal separation, a noncitizen can still stay in the country even if they don’t live with their spouse.
Annulments are rare in Oregon. This basically declares that a marriage is void, as if it never happened.
An annulment may be granted only if one of the following circumstances exist:
- Either party was incapable to consenting to the marriage because they were underage or lacked the capacity to understand the marriage contract,
- When the consent of either party was obtained by force or fraud.
- Either party was already married at the time of the marriage or when the parties are first cousins or near kin to each other.
Divorce is a permanent and legal end to a marriage. In Oregon, it is known as a dissolution of marriage. All ties are severed, assets are divided, custody and alimony issues are resolved, and each spouse goes their separate way after a final decree is issued.
What are the grounds for divorce in Oregon?
Oregon is a no-fault state regarding the grounds for a divorce. This means that the only thing that needs to be cited is that “irreconcilable differences” have caused a breakdown of the marriage.
However, courts will allow a fault for the divorce to be introduced when it comes to determining child custody. For example, if it can be proven that a spouse had a serious drug or alcohol problem, this will affect visitation and custody issues.
There are three other grounds that can be cited for divorce in Oregon, but they do not relate to what happened in the marriage but rather conditions under which the marriage took place. It is possible to file for an immediate divorce if the grounds are:
- Marrying under the legal age
- Lack of sufficient understanding to consent to the marriage, or
- Marrying as a result of force or fraud.
If the marriage didn’t take place in Oregon, to start divorce proceedings either spouse must reside in the state continuously for the six-month period before the divorce is filed.
What kind of divorce is right for you?
You have several options you can pursue in Oregon if you are contemplating a divorce. How you proceed will, in large part, depend on the relationship you have with your spouse. If you can agree to work together, chances are you can save a lot of money and move quicker through the process.
Aside from the decision to get a divorce, the single most important decision you will make is the type of divorce.
You see, there are only two ways that you reach a final resolution:
- You and your spouse agree
- A judge decides
That’s it. The type of divorce sets the frameworks for how you get to a final resolution. The process you and your spouse choose sets the tone and shapes the outcome of your divorce.
Before we get into the details, there’s one thing I want you to keep in mind.
One type of divorce is not “better” than another. Divorce is not one size fits all.
With that in mind, here are the types of divorce:
Do-It-Yourself Divorce: What I like to call the kitchen table divorce. This one is pretty straight forward. You don’t hire any professionals and attempt to resolve all your differences with your spouse. The biggest downside is you don’t know what you don’t know. I’d steer clear of this approach unless you don’t have kids or any money.
Online Divorce: A far superior choice to DIY divorce. Navigating the divorce process and legal procedures can be a minefield. A good online divorce platform removes the guesswork. Through guided interviews, you’ll complete the forms while getting educated on the key legal issues in the process. This can be a great option if you have a relatively straightforward situation and you’re on the same page with your spouse.
Litigation: The default option and also the most expensive. If you and your spouse can’t agree on one of the other options, then you’re headed for litigation. Litigation is an attorney-driven process. While the majority of cases settle before going to trial, that doesn’t mean litigation won’t wreak havoc on you and your kids.
Sometimes it’s the only viable option, however. If your spouse has a high-conflict personality (narcissist, borderline, etc.) or there is domestic violence, litigation might be your only option. It’s also the right choice if your primary objective is to punish your spouse. As tempting as that might be, I encourage you to think about the big picture.
Mediation: With mediation, you and your spouse retain a neutral professional (typically an attorney) to help facilitate agreement. The mediator will help you brainstorm options, understand each other’s perspectives, and make compromises to reach a resolution that you and your spouse can both live with.
Collaborative Divorce: Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t just mean that you and your spouse are going to work out your divorce “collaboratively.” There’s much more to it. Collaborative divorce is a structured process that takes a team approach. Divorce is much more than a legal process. It’s about money, kids, and emotions.
That’s why a Collaborative team includes collaborative lawyers, a divorce coach, and a neutral financial specialist. Unlike any other process, everyone commits not to go to court. The idea is that this removes the threat of litigation which fosters creative solutions and interest-based negotiation. It’s far and away the most supportive type of divorce.
Learn More: I’ve really just scratched the surface on the types of divorce. For a deep dive into the pros and cons of these options, be sure to check out our guide on the types of divorce.
What is the process of filing for divorce in Oregon?
You do have several different ways you can proceed, but many of the basic processes are the same regardless of what you decide to do.
Gather important information
Save time, money and stress in your divorce by approaching this step in a timely and thorough way. It will take time to pull together your information, but it is vital that you do this without cutting corners so you can make sure your legal rights are protected and to give yourself the possibility of achieving the best possible final settlement with your spouse.
Starting early and being organized are keys to successfully completing this task.
Before you jump in to collecting financial information, take the following steps:
- Open a new checking and savings account in your name alone.
- Open a credit card in your name alone.
- Order a free credit report.
- Make a list of all the assets and liabilities that you’re aware of. Include any memberships, reward points, and other perks that may be considered as assets.
Okay, now it’s time to start gathering your information. Here’s a short-list of what you need:
- Tax returns (including W-2’s, K-1’s, and 1099’s) for the last 5 years
- Pay stubs for the last 3 months
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Retirement account statements
- Pension plan statements
- Grant notice for stock options, RSUs, etc.
- Investment account statements
- Life insurance policies
- Mortgage statements
- Real estate appraisals
- Deeds to real estate
- Car registration
- Kelley Blue Book printouts (“private party value”)
- Car loan statements
- Social security benefit statement
This is only a partial list. We’ve simplified the process for you by creating a Divorce Information Checklist you can check out as part of our article The Ultimate Divorce Checklist: The Information You Need to Prepare for Divorce.
Complete the initial paperwork
After you decide what kind of divorce you will pursue, you need to fill out several forms and submit them to start your divorce in Oregon.
It is possible to file for a summary dissolution which is the easiest of all types of filings. To use summary dissolution forms, you must meet several criteria, including:
- Residency – You or your spouse are a resident of Oregon and one of you has been living here for the last six months;
- Length of Marriage – You have not been married for more than ten years;
- Children – You have no minor children (or children 18-20 years old attending school), born to or adopted by you and your spouse, either before or during the marriage. The wife is not pregnant now;
- Real Property – Neither you nor your spouse owns any real property (land, houses, or buildings) anywhere;
- Personal Property – The combined net value of the personal property owned by you and your spouse is not more than $30,000;
- Debts – The combined unpaid debts of you and your spouse during your marriage are not more than $15,000;
- Spousal Support – Neither spouse is asking for spousal support;
- Temporary Orders – Neither spouse is asking for any temporary orders (except a restraining order in a separate Family Abuse Prevention Act case); and
- Other Divorce Actions – You are not aware of any other divorce or annulment proceedings involving this marriage filed in any court and not yet decided.
If you don’t meet all of these criteria, you will have to use forms available through your local court or use an attorney to help you with this process.
If you are going through a contested divorce, you probably should seek legal advice to guide you through the process.
File your forms
You must file forms at the county court where either you or the defendant lives. After filing, you must then serve your spouse with copies of the divorce papers to make them legal aware of the divorce petition.
Completing proof of service in Oregon
The easiest way to complete proof of service in Oregon is to have your spouse sign paperwork that he or she has been served. If they will not agree to do this, then your attorney will make arrangements for proof of service to be completed.
If you do not have an attorney, your spouse can be served by either the sheriff or another adult. This may be anyone over 18 years old who is not a party to the divorce, or you can use a professional process server.
If you’ve made diligent attempts to find your spouse and can’t do so, you can make arrangements to either publish the divorce notice in a local paper or by posting it. A judge will need to give you permission to use either of these methods. Publishing a notice in a newspaper may run about $100 but posting a notice in the courthouse will be free.
After proof of service, your spouse has 30 days to respond to the complaint. If they do not contest the divorce, you can request a final judgment that should be granted in 6 to 8 weeks
You might be able to get the judgment sooner if a judge decides that you have a good reason, such as an emergency or when you and your spouse have both signed the divorce papers and you are in agreement on all issues.
Can you file for divorce online in Oregon?
You can complete much of the paperwork to start your divorce in Oregon online. There are several firms and legal aid societies that may be able to help you with this task.
Our favorite resource for a fast and effective online divorce is: 3 Step Divorce.
3 Step Divorce checks all the boxes that make an online divorce worthwhile.
They aim to make it easy – and they certainly deliver.
From step-by-step instructions to unlimited live support, here are just a few of the reasons why 3 Step is our #1 recommended online divorce resource:
- $299 flat-fee with no hidden charges
- Monthly payment options as low as $84/mo
- Initial questionnaire takes less than 1 hour
- Library of free tools and resources
- Unlimited access to support agents by phone or email
- Immediate access to completed forms
- Assurance of 100% court-approval (or your money back!)
3 Step Divorce also boasts the highest customer rating in the industry (4.6 stars based on 1,575 reviews).
You can learn more by reading our 3StepDivorce review.
Better yet, you can Start Your 3 Step Divorce NOW (as low as $84/month).
However, after you’ve completed your forms online, you will still need to print out copies and file them with the county clerk where either you or your spouse resides.
Can you file for divorce in Oregon without using a lawyer?
Yes. If you proceed with a divorce on your own, this is known as proceeding pro se (without legal counsel).
If you want to pursue an uncontested divorce and you and your spouse agree on all terms, you can complete the required paperwork and move forward with a no-fault divorce relatively easy.
How much will it cost?
To file for a divorce in Oregon, a petitioner will need to pay a filing fee of $273 and an additional fee to have documents served on a spouse. This may run anywhere from $30 to $75, depending on what source you use. When a defendant responds, they will also need to pay a $273 filing fee as well.
In some instances, it may be possible to ask a judge to waive the fees for your divorce by filing a Waiver or Deferral of Fees form with the court. The court will consider your request and if you qualify, you will not need to pay filing fees.
If you are not able to reach a settlement on your own with your spouse, expect to pay an attorney legal fees that will range from $200 to $500 per hour depending on how complex your divorce is and how many hours it will take to resolve those issues. Many attorneys will also ask for some sort of retainer up front as well.
Fully contested divorces are expensive, and you can easily rack up thousands of dollars in legal fees depending on how contentious the divorce is, what kind of assets are involved, and how much disagreement there is with child custody and support issues.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Oregon?
It both spouses file a co-petition for divorce, it usually takes about two weeks or less for a judge to sign off on the divorce. If a single spouse petition is filed, it takes about 5-6 weeks from the filing because a respondent has 30 days to file a response to the initial complaint. Technically, there is no waiting period as long as you can meet residency requirements.
On the other hand, with a contested divorce it can take several months to well over a year to resolve the divorce, depending on the complexity of the case and the backlog of the court system.
Should I work with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst?
Divorcing spouses in Oregon often retain a family law attorney to help them through the process. In many cases, an attorney can handle all aspects of the divorce, including financial and tax implications.
But when considerable or complicated types of assets are involved, there are times when you may need other specialists to ensure your rights are protected. If this describes your situation, you will definitely benefit from working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), and preferably someone who is also a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).
Bifurcation of marital status
Bifurcation of marital status in Oregon means that both parties can legally divide their divorce into two stages.
The first part satisfies the grounds for the divorce and the second part addresses the financial aspects of the divorce such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony or other contentious issues that may have stalled or become major sticking points that are keeping the divorce from being finalized.
Some courts are reluctant to grant bifurcated marriages because it is not judicially efficient due to the need for two court actions or trials. It can also be more expensive and drag out the process for a much longer time period.
Can I cancel, stop or reverse a divorce in Oregon?
In a word, no.
If somebody wants to get a divorce, you can’t stop them from doing so.
However, if a divorce has started but a final decree has not been issued and the spouses have reconciled, it may be possible to have the original petitioner file a motion with the court seeking to dismiss the complaint and end the divorce action.
But once a final decree has been issued, the divorce if final. If two people decide they want to reconcile at that point, they will have to get married again.
What is a divorce decree?
In Oregon, a divorce decree is the court’s final order that terminates a marriage. It details the rights and responsibilities of each party, including a division of assets, child custody, visitation, alimony, child support and any other issues that need to be resolved.
It is a legal and binding document and must be executed as such. If either party fails to do so, the other party can take legal action to correct any deficiencies.
What is a divorce certificate?
A divorce certificate only contains basic information about a divorce, such as when and where it took place. It does not contain specifics related to the details of a settlement.
Access to divorce certificates in Oregon is restricted by state Administrative Rules for 50 years following the date of divorce. Access to vital records that are restricted must be obtained through the State Registrar.
Changing Your Name
When preparing your divorce forms, you will be presented either an option to either restore your former name or request a court order for changing names.
Name changes are granted as part of your divorce. You may either receive a separate court order making your name change official, or have your name change recorded on the final divorce decree. Both of these documents are accepted with all US organizations and agencies as evidence of your name change.
Just having a court order does not mean your name change has taken effect. You will need to contact all of your organizations to request your records are updated.
We understand that it takes a lot of time to contact each company and figure out what to send where. That’s why we recommend using an Easy Name Change kit to mitigate the 10+ hours of research and paperwork that follows.
Recommended Divorce Resources
There are a lot of divorce resources that make big claims. We’ve tested a bunch of them. Most fall short. A few stand above the rest.
These are the tools and resources we’re excited to share with you because we know they can help you have a better divorce.
If you’re looking for recommendations in any of the following areas, we’ve got you covered:
- Online divorce
- QDRO preparation to divide retirement plans and pensions
- Masterclass on ninja tricks to negotiating with a narcissist
- Co-parenting apps
- Personal finance and budgeting apps
- Best place to sell your engagement ring
- And a whole lot more