Portland Spousal Support Attorneys

Oregon Divorce Attorneys Who Are Knowledgeable in Oregon Spousal Support Laws and Aggressively Protect Clients’ Financial Interests

Almost every aspect of an Oregon divorce can be challenging – emotionally and financially. Ideally, each spouse would be able to maintain their standard of living after a divorce. However, transitioning to life as a single person often leads to financial uncertainty for both spouses. Many expenses, such as rent or a mortgage, will double when a couple splits up. Those spouses who stayed at home raising children during the marriage may need to work after a divorce, and spouses who were working during the marriage may need to bring in more money. Not surprisingly, chief among the concerns for many considering a divorce is whether alimony, or spousal support, will be awarded by the court. Spousal support refers to court-ordered payments from one spouse to the other. While spousal support is not ordered as often as it once was, Oregon family courts still order spousal support in a considerable number of cases.

At the Portland family law firm of Gearing Rackner & McGrath, LLP, we represent clients going through the difficult process of divorce. As experienced divorce attorneys, we understand the financial fears and anxieties that the divorce process can bring about, and we tirelessly work to protect our clients’ interests. Having served clients across Oregon and Washington for the past 15 years, we understand that our clients often need more than just an attorney, but someone to support them through the myriad challenges that divorce presents, including spousal support issues. At Gearing Rackner & McGrath, we are honored to fulfill that role.

Oregon Spousal Support Statistics

Oregon Spousal Support Laws

When a couple gets divorced, the court will occasionally order one spouse to make payments to the other spouse. Generally, these payments are referred to as spousal support, alimony or spousal maintenance. In Oregon, courts refer to the payment from one spouse to another as spousal support, and reserve the term spousal maintenance for a specific type of spousal support. The term alimony is interchangeable with spousal support.

Oregon divorce law allows for three types of spousal support: transitional support, compensatory support and spousal maintenance support.

Transitional: Transitional spousal support is court-ordered support designed to help a spouse to gain education or training in order to reenter or advance in the workplace. Courts often award transitional support in shorter-term marriages where one spouse needs additional resources to transition to single life. Courts consider the following factors when making transitional support decisions:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The job training, education and employment skills of each spouse
  • The financial resources of each spouse, as well as their continuing financial needs
  • The tax consequences to each party
  • The child support responsibilities of each spouse

Compensatory: Courts order compensatory support payments when one spouse made significant payments towards the other’s education, training, vocational skills or other expenses related to the spouse’s career advancement. Compensatory support is rare, because more often, the court will use other marital assets to compensate the spouse that incurred these expenses. When a court considers whether to award compensatory support payments, it must consider:

  • The amount, nature and duration of the paying spouse’s contribution
  • The length of the marriage
  • The extent to which the marital estate benefitted from the paying spouse’s contribution
  • The tax consequences to each party
  • Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable

Spousal maintenance: Spousal maintenance refers to payments to a spouse designed to allow the receiving spouse to maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. Spousal maintenance is most often awarded in long-term marriages where the income gap between the parties is substantial, or in situations in which the receiving spouse lacks the ability to work.

Spousal maintenance is the most commonly sought type of Oregon spousal support. Primarily, this is because spousal maintenance payments have the most significant impact on both the paying and receiving party, as these payments are often long-term or indefinite. When it comes to determining whether spousal support is appropriate, Oregon courts do not follow a formula that dictates the amount or duration of payments. Instead, courts must consider several factors, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age of both spouses
  • The spouses’ standard of living during the marriage
  • The income and earning capacity of the parties
  • Each spouse’s education, training and employment skills
  • The financial needs and resources available to each spouse
  • The tax consequences to each party
  • Each spouse’s custodial and child support responsibilities
  • Any other factors the court deems just and equitable

When a court determines that spousal maintenance is appropriate, it must then determine the duration of the payments. Oregon spousal maintenance can be either awarded for a specified period or indefinitely; however, courts rarely order indefinite payments. Instead, a court may order long-term payment obligations. Courts primarily consider the age and health of the parties, as well as the length of the marriage when determining the duration of spousal support payments.

At Gearing Rackner & McGrath, our team of experienced Portland divorce attorneys works with clients early on in the divorce process to ensure that their rights are protected. We handle all the legal issues related to divorce, including Oregon child custody and child support matters. With our assistance, you can be sure that you will have not only a zealous advocate who will look out for your rights, but also a network of supporting professionals who can answer any questions and offer you guidance along the way.

Oregon Spousal Support Modification Orders

When an Oregon divorce judge issues an order awarding spousal support, that order is typically final. However, if either party can establish a material change in circumstances, they can petition to the court for a modification to the spousal support order. Depending on the circumstances, courts can increase or decrease spousal support payment amounts, as well as the duration of support payments.

The most common types of Oregon spousal support modifications are requests to reduce payment amounts. Typically, these requests arise when the paying spouse loses their job or suffers a reduction in income. While courts have the ability to increase spousal support payments, increases are rare and generally reserved for situations where the receiving spouse becomes ill or disabled.

Courts are also frequently asked to modify the duration of spousal support payments. The reason why the court-ordered spousal support in the first place will guide the court’s analysis. For example, if a judge awards spousal support to a party to help them transition into the workforce, payments may be extended if the party cannot find a job despite their due diligence. At the same time, if the receiving spouse finds a job faster than anticipated, the court may order the termination of spousal support payments.

Of course, once a couple divorces, they may not know the financial situation of their former spouse. Thus, practically speaking, it may be difficult for a party to know whether to file for a modification order. However, in 2017, Oregon lawmakers passed a law allowing for a party to submit a written request for the first two pages of their former spouse’s state and federal tax returns. Before this law, parties had to file a request for modification before being able to access to their former spouse’s financial information. In this way, the new law can help parties make an educated guess as to whether pursuing a modification order is worth their time and expense.

Notably, unlike the laws in other states, Oregon divorce law does not automatically terminate spousal support payments when the spouse receiving the payments remarries. Instead, the court will consider the extent to which the receiving spouse’s new marriage has improved their economic situation and then decide whether modification of the spousal support award is necessary. Importantly, courts can only make support modifications retroactive back to the date of the request to modify. So, anyone who is considering such a request should act sooner rather than later.

At Gearing Rackner & McGrath, we know that circumstances change, and so too should spousal support obligations. Our team of dedicated Oregon family law and divorce attorneys have broad experience assisting clients with modification of support orders, as well as other issues that may come up after a divorce is final. We can advise you whether a modification order will likely be successful, and if you determine to pursue a modification, we will aggressively advocate on your behalf.

Schedule a Consultation with an Oregon Spousal Support Attorney

If you are in the process of seeking spousal support in Oregon, or believe that your spouse intends on pursuing a spousal support order, contact one of the dedicated Oregon family law attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP. As committed divorce lawyers, we have extensive experience handling Portland divorce cases as well as the related issues that frequently come up throughout the divorce process, including the determination of spousal support. We also handle modifications to existing Oregon spousal support orders. To learn more about how our award-winning attorneys can assist you in a spousal support or modification order, call us at 503-222-9116 or contact us through our online form to learn more about how we can help.