What is the process for filing for divorce in Oregon?
We know ending a marriage is a big decision—often one made only after careful consideration and emotional struggle. Once you’ve decided to file for divorce in Oregon, it’s important to understand the process ahead of you and the steps you should take to ensure as smooth an experience as possible.
In Portland and throughout Oregon, your organization and attention to legal requirements when filing can have a huge impact on the ease and speed with which you are able to finalize your divorce and move on from the relaitonship. Attorney Steve Leskin of Leskin Law and Mediation provides invaluable guidance through the process. Read on to learn more about the filing process and how we can help.
What do I need to do to start a divorce in Oregon?
Starting a divorce in Oregon is simple enough so long as you meet the state’s residency requirements as described in ORS 107.075 (2021):
- You were married in Oregon and you currently live in Oregon; OR
- You and/or your spouse currently live in Oregon and have lived here for at least six months
After confirming proper residency, you’ll need to take three steps to begin your divorce:
First, you must pay filing fees. The exact cost depends on the county in which you and/or your spouse live, which is where you must file. The cost in Oregon to file a divorce is $301., and there might be an additional fee of around $35 if you need to have your spouse formally served with the Petition of Dissolution of Marriage. If the filing fees are unaffordable, you can request that they be waived or deferred.
Second, you need to complete a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage; a form addressing key details such as your goals for property division, spousal support, financials/debts and issues concerning children from the marriage, if applicable. Once properly filled out, you must submit this document to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in your county (or your spouse’s county).
Finally, you must alert your spouse to your divorce filing. This is known as serving them. You can arrange with your lawyer for your spouse to be served with your petition or pay a fee for the sheriff or a process server to deliver the papers. On the other hand, in amicable/mutual situations, your spouse can simply sign an acknowledgement of receiving the petition from you.
What are the grounds for divorce in Oregon?
Oregon is a no-fault divorce states, meaning it has done away with fault-based grounds for divorce. Beyond proving residency, you do not need to prove any other conditions such as adultery, abuse or other misconduct in order to obtain a divorce. Every divorce filing in Oregon will cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for ending the marriage. he State does permit other grounds related the circumstances under which the marriage was entered into in the first place:
- One or both spouses were not of the legal age to marry
- One or both spouses were not of proper mental capacity to consent to the marriage
- The marriage resulted out of fraud, force or coercion
Filing for contested or uncontested divorce in Oregon
Your divorce may be contested or uncontested. If your spouse contests the divorce, that means they disagree with some or all of the terms in your Petition and intend to litigate the differences. They will file a Response to your Petition Of Dissolution indicating the matters they contest and their counter-terms. The case will proceed from there toward mediation, settlement or trial.
Contested divorces generally take a year or to finalize and often involve more expenses in legal and attorney fees than anyone wants to spend, not to mention unnecessary emotional stress and hours spent with your attorney and in court. Additionally, trial court decisions often leave neither party entirely satisfied. No one comes out the clear winner. Needless to say, the anger and resentment over the outcome may last years.
In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree on all issues pertaining to you’re your married life together, including division of the assets and debts, spousal support and the kids, if any. You can file the initial petition individually or the two of you can file together as co-petitioners. Either way the process is much smoother and takes far less time, often being finalized within just a few months. Generally, uncontested divorces are appropriate for couples without much in the way of property or income to fight over.
In Oregon, the simplest of uncontested divorce cases may even qualify for short-form summary dissolution, meaning that the divorce can be finalized even more quickly and without either spouse having to appear in court. However, certain conditions must apply:
- Oregon residency for at least the last six months
- The marriage lasted no more than ten years
- No minor children (or children age 18-21 years and still in school)
- Neither spouse pregnant
- No ownership of real estate
- No more than $30,000 in total personal property
- Less than $15,000 in total debts
- Neither spouse seeks spousal support/alimony
- No pending divorce, annulment or legal separation actions in any state including Oregon
Regardless of whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, the filing will ultimately require an extensive set of documents to to file with the court. While it’s possible to complete these court documents on your own, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer who can help you go through them and avoid the pitfalls that would extend your case or burden you with extra expenses.
Q: Does it matter which spouse files first?
A: From a legal perspective, it does not matter who files first in Oregon. There may be certain strategic reasons to file first, but there is no legal advantage to filing first. The law favors neither the petitioner nor the petitioner.
Q: What does a divorce cost?
A There is no question that lawyer’s time is expensive. Most lawyers in the Portland area are now charging north of $300 an hour, plus paralegal time and other costs. While there is no “typical divorce”, a middle-income family with a house, two kids and a $100,000 retirement account might spend $30,000, per person, on attorneys’ fees if every issue in the case is contested. Leskin Law and Mediation created the One Day Divorce process to get a handle on these kinds of outrageous fees.
Q: Is legal separation different from divorce?
A: While the two are different, legal separation resolves the same matters that are addressed in a divorce. In fact, many couples use the terms of their legal separation as a framework for their eventual divorce. The most significant difference is that in a legal separation, the spouses are still legally married and therefore cannot remarry until a proper divorce is obtained.
Contact Leskin Law & Mediation for help filing for Divorce in Oregon
At every stage of the process—from before your initial filing to the day your divorce is finalized—the team at Leskin Law & Mediation will support you and make the experience as easy and efficient as possible. To learn more about the One Day Divorce process or to schedule your free consultation with a divorce attorney, contact us online or call (888) 888-8911 today.