In Oregon, the distinction between divorce and legal separation is an important one. Both require a court ruling to dictate the terms and put the process into effect, but they have different implications. Since each state determines their own rules regarding divorce, it is necessary for those people considering dissolution of a marriage to learn what is allowable in the state of Oregon. Therefore, a consultation with a divorce lawyer is highly recommended even if both parties are in full agreement.
Oregon is a “no fault” state in terms of divorce proceedings. A person wishing to end their marriage does not need a specific reason to do so. Simply not getting along with a spouse and being unable to remedy the situation, known legally as “irreconcilable differences”, is an adequate reason for filing. “No fault” divorces are distinct from “fault” divorces whereby legal grounds such as adultery, cruelty or desertion are required.
As an alternative to divorce, some couples choose to legally separate. There are several benefits to going this route as opposed to immediately filing for dissolution of marriage. A legal separation resembles a divorce in that a judge decides:
* Who gets custody of children (if there are any involved);
* Who pays child support and how much;
* How the property, including homes and retirement benefits, is divided;
* Whether spousal support is merited
To file for divorce in Oregon, one or both parties must have resided in the state a minimum of six months prior to filing. Secondly, the paperwork must be submitted and filed in one party’s county of residence. Once these requirements are met, three steps follow: A petition for divorce must be filed with the county clerk stationed at the local courthouse, the petition must be officially served on the spouse and the associated fees must be paid.
Legal separation may be in the best interest of one or both parties. If, for instance, religious beliefs prohibit divorce or if the Oregon residency requirements have not yet been met, separation is a possibility. This allows for the continuation of any medical benefits and any property inheritance rights remain intact. Moreover, a person can be shielded from liability should their spouse run up any debts during the separation period, but only if they are in an equitable distribution state such as Oregon.
A petition can still be filed for dissolution of the marriage within two years of filing for legal separation. Whether contested or uncontested, consulting with a divorce attorney is advisable when seeking a divorce or separation. Their expertise and experience in this area of law provide people with answers to complicated questions as well as peace of mind during a trying time in their lives.