Finding yourself facing a divorce is a challenging, emotional, and draining experience, and one that can have a significant impact on your finances, mental health, and emotional wellbeing. It is crucial that you have a skilled, experienced and compassionate legal team on hand to help you navigate this difficult process, and ensure that you receive the support and assistance that you deserve.
Requirements For Divorce in Oregon
The first thing to establish is that you are eligible to file for divorce in Oregon; to qualify, at least one spouse is required to have been a resident in the state of Oregon for a minimum of six months prior to filing for divorce. In the majority of cases, divorces tend to be based on irreconcilable differences – this occurs when couples are no longer able to live together, and this has resulted in a breakdown of the marriage.
Unlike some other states, Oregon operates a “no-fault” position when it comes to divorce, and this means that you are unable to assert that any wrongdoing by your spouse was the cause of your decision to file for divorce. While issues such as substance abuse, desertion or infidelity may play a key role in discussions surrounding alimony and child custody, they will not play a role in your decision to divorce.
Division Of Assets
Oregon operates as an equitable division state, and this means that each spouse is entitled to own any income that they earn during the course of the marriage, and also has the right to retain and manage any property that is placed solely in their name. Despite the apparent simplicity, the division of marital assets can nonetheless be difficult. Equitable division does not automatically mean that things will be divided equally between the two spouses; judges will request a determination as to what constitutes separate property, and what constitutes marital property.
In many cases, the majority of assets that are accumulated during the course of a marriage will be considered to be marital property. The exceptions lie with gifts and inheritance, and these will be allocated to the spouse for whom they were originally intended – the only exception is if these assets were combined during the course of a marriage, for example, in the purchase of a property. Any economic misconduct will also be considered when assets are divided, and this could work in the favor of the other spouse. When determining an equitable distribution, courts will consider a number of factors, and these include:
- The length of the marriage
- The contributions of each spouse
- The custody arrangement in place – will one spouse be responsible for taking care of minor children?
- The employability of each spouse
- Any tax consequences
- Any sources of future income
Any debts will also be considered, and these will be divided in the same way as assets. It is important that a spouse removes their name and obligation from any debts that are assigned to their spouse, as creditors will not be bound by a divorce decree – failing to remove your name means that you could still be eligible for repayments, even if you are divorced. In some cases, you may even face collection actions against the other spouse if the necessary steps are not taken. Any premarital debt that was acquired by one spouse will be considered to be theirs exclusively – the only exception is if the other spouse has added to the account, for example by using a credit card or extending a loan.
Pensions and retirement accounts are also considered to be marital property, and so subject to equitable distribution laws – this only applies, however, to the amounts that are accumulated during the course of the marriage. Depending on the exact terms of the settlement a spouse may be entitled to up to 50% of a retirement fund, though this can also be negotiated in exchange for other preferred assets. Plans are set up by executing a specialist qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), which must be approved by the courts and an administrator.
Contested Versus Uncontested Divorce
There are two main types of divorce in Oregon: contested and uncontested. Of these, the latter is preferable; in an uncontested divorce, both parties are in agreement regarding the terms, and these divorces can often be completed within a few weeks. A contested divorce, on the other hand, occurs when parties are in disagreement on the terms put forward and are required to attend court to resolve their issues. Here, it is crucial that you have a skilled attorney on your side to help you fight your corner and receive what you are owed.
Another option to consider is legal separation; this is an option for spouses who are undecided about taking a permanent step, such as divorce, but who need some time apart. A legal separation allows you to take the space you need without having to worry about your rights or assets – the separation is filed with the court, and issues such as child custody, finances, and property are all agreed upon in advance. This offers the security of a divorce settlement but allows you the time you need to decide if this is the right step for your family.
Depending on your circumstances, an annulment may also be an option – this essentially voids the marriage, as though it never existed in the first place, and is an option for those who have been victims of fraud, or who unknowingly married someone who was already married.
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Divorce can be painful and confusing, and so it is crucial that you have someone on your side. Our team of experienced attorneys will treat your case with empathy and compassion, working tirelessly to ensure that you achieve the best outcome for everyone involved.