What is a no-fault divorce?

What is a no-fault divorce?

Those who have looked into obtaining an Oregon divorce will have likely read that Oregon is a “no-fault” state. Simply stated, that means that either spouse can file for a divorce for no other reason that the fact that they do not get along. The law refers to this as “irreconcilable differences.” This means that neither spouse needs to prove that the other spouse was “at fault” for the marriage not working out.

Historically, once a couple married, they could only get divorced for certain reasons. For example, the old common-law reasons for divorce include:

  • Adultery
  • Bigamy
  • Criminal conviction
  • Desertion
  • Fraud in obtaining the marriage
  • Mental incapacity at the time of the marriage
  • Mental of physical abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Impotence at the time of marriage
  • Incest

As noted above, in Oregon, none of these things need to be established to get a divorce. However, a court may rely on one party’s fault or bad conduct when determining spousal support and the division of property. That being the case, many parties will still raise their former partner’s poor conduct in an attempt to put themselves in a better situation later on in the divorce proceeding.

Courts may also use some of these reasons when deciding which parent receives custody of the couple’s children. However, not all of those factors would be relevant to the court’s child-custody decisions. For example, a court would not likely award child custody to a parent based solely on the fact that the other parent was unfaithful. However, if one parent was abusive to the children during the marriage, the court would certainly consider that fact.

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