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The Divorce Process in Oregon

Chapter 107 of Oregon Revised Statutes pertains to marital dissolution and separation. The party who moves the petition for dissolution of marriage is called 'the petitioner' and the other party the 'respondent'. Both the parties may also act as co-petitioners. The petition includes the date and place of marriage, the residence address, the names and ages of all the children born and adopted by the parties during and prior to the marriage and other details relevant to the case. So far as residency requirements are concerned, if the grounds for annulment or dissolution are wanting of age or consent by force or fraud, the marriage should have been solemnized in the state and either party must be a resident of the state at the time of commencement of suit. If grounds other than those already mentioned are alleged, at least one party must be a resident of or domiciled in the state for a continuous period of six months prior to commencement of the suit without any regard to the place of marriage.

A petition can be filed only in the county where one of the parties resides. Barring exceptional circumstances, hearing is not granted in a suit for dissolution until after expiry of ninety days from the serving of summons and petition on the respondent. Chapter 107.025 establishes the grounds for dissolution as irreconcilable differences leading to irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

The doctrines of fault and in pari delicto are no more in practice as per section 107.036. Oregon is thus a 'no-fault divorce' state.

The court does not require any evidence of misconduct to award a decree of dissolution, nor, does marital misconduct has any impact on division of property. It is, however, considered while awarding child custody. One provision under Oregon statutes is the Summary Dissolution procedure specified in the section 107.485. A marriage may be dissolved by this procedure if all the following requirements are fulfilled at the time of filing the suit: 1) The residency requirements and irreconcilable differences as grounds for dissolution are met. 2) There are no minor children involved in the marriage by birth or adoption 3) Duration of marriage is less than 10 years 4) Neither party has any interest in real property 5) There are no unpaid debts exceeding $ 15000 by either or both parties during marriage 6) The total value of personal property is less than $ 30000 7) The petitioner relinquishes all rights to spousal support and pendent lite orders except those pursuant to Family Abuse Prevention Act 8) The petitioner does not know of any pending domestic relations suits involving this marriage in this or any other state.

The respondent is required to file with the court and the petitioner, a 'motion' or an 'answer' within 30 days of receiving of the summons for summary dissolution, failing which, the petitioner can move the court for an order for default judgment of dissolution. After a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed, the court issues a restraining order against the petitioner and the respondent until further orders which deals with major financial transaction and payment of premiums of health insurance policies etc. A copy of the restraining order is attached to the summons. The state of Oregon encourages parents to act in the best interest of their children. Parents may develop their own parenting plan, best suited to the welfare of their children for which legal and mediation aid is provided.

A parenting plan may be general, wherein it gives a general layout of parental responsibilities and sets forth the parenting rights of a non-custodial parent. On the other hand, a detailed parenting plan has various provisions relating to residence plans, vacation plans, decision making and methods to resolve arguments and disputes. An order of sole custody to one parent entitles the other to inspect the measures regarding the education, healthcare and welfare of the child and to apply to be the child's guardian ad litem or conservator. Section 107.

169 awards joint custody of the child. So far as division of assets is concerned, if there is a premarital agreement in place, it can be easily enforced. Spousal support amount is arrived at by the court after considering factors like the present standard of living, employability of the dependent spouse etc. Just and proper division is awarded by the court of the co-owned property acquired during marriage by other than gift or inheritance. With Oregon projecting itself as a futuristic state, it remains to be seen whether marriage here can hold on to itself as a social institution or more Oregonians will opt for live-in relationships, in the process, demonstrating a pseudo reduction in divorce rates.

James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. If you want to find out more about a solicitor managed divorce see

The Divorce Process in Oregon

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