When Do Courts Award Spousal Support in an Oregon Divorce?

Spousal support (sometimes known as alimony) may be appropriate in some Oregon divorce cases. Spousal support refers to one spouse’s payments to the other after a divorce. Parties to a divorce will often encounter several expenses in separating their lives and ending a marriage. A court can order alimony during a trial if parties cannot agree to an alimony amount.

Oregon maintains unique rules because it is one of the few states that adhere to a “no-fault divorce.” This means that courts will not consider fault in equitable distribution or spousal support. Thus, it is essential that those considering a divorce consult with an attorney to ensure that they protect their rights, assets, and standard of living.

Types of Spousal Support in Oregon

Oregon has three primary types of spousal supports: transitional, compensatory, and maintenance.

Transitional Support

Transitional support is a short-term type of support that the court generally reserves for short or mid-length marriages. As the name suggests, this support facilitates a spouse’s transition into the workforce.

Compensatory Support

Compensatory Support refers to support designed to repay a spouse for the spouse’s financial contributions during the marriage to the other party’s education, training, or earning capacity.

Maintenance Support

Maintenance support maintains a spouse’s reasonable standard of living after the divorce. Maintenance is also appropriate when a spouse cannot become self-supporting because of a long-term absence from the workforce, disability, or age.

Oregon judges may award temporary support to a dependent spouse during the divorce process. These temporary orders are effective as soon as the judge signs them, and it lasts until the judge changes the order or finalizes the divorce.

Relevant Factors in Spousal Support Determinations

Unlike other states, Oregon maintains different factors for courts to follow for each type of support. The first step in each determination requires the requesting spouse to establish a financial need that the other spouse can afford to pay. After meeting this threshold requirement, the court will evaluate the matter to determine the appropriate type, amount, and duration of support.

Transitional Support Factors:

  • Duration of the marriage,
  • Spouses’ education, training, and employment qualifications,
  • Spouse’s work history,
  • Financial resources and needs of each spouse,
  • Tax consequences of spousal Support to each spouse,
  • Custodial and child support responsibilities; and
  • Any other factors the court deems essential to a just and equitable outcome.

Compensatory Support:

  • Nature, duration, and amount of the spouse’s contribution,
  • Duration of the marriage,
  • Earning capacities of each spouse,
  • The marital benefit to date,
  • Tax consequences to each spouse; and
  • Any other factors the court deems essential to a just and equitable outcome.

Maintenance Support:

  • Duration of the marriage,
  • The age of the spouses,
  • The physical, psychological, and emotional health of each spouse,
  • The marital standard of living,
  • Relative income of each spouse,
  • Financial needs and resources of each spouse,
  • A spouse’s work experience, training, skills,
  • The tax consequences to each spouse,
  • Custodial and child support responsibilities; and
  • Any other factors the court deems essential to a just and equitable outcome.

Courts can order one type of support or a combination, depending on the couple’s situation. The court does not use a particular formula, and judges maintain complete control over the final award. An attorney is an invaluable resource to these proceedings because they can assist in securing a just and equitable outcome.

Modifying Spousal Support

Spousal support determinations are based upon circumstances at the time of the divorce; thus, modifications at a later time may be necessary. In an Oregon divorce, either spouse can motion the court to modify or terminate spousal support. However, a judge will only order a modification or termination if the requesting spouse establishes a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a modification.

The Impact of Spousal Support on Taxes

Beginning on January 1, 2019, spousal supports or maintenance payments are not deductible from the payer spouses’ income. Spousal support is not includable the income of the receiving spouse. These new rules apply in divorce or separation agreements executed after December 31, 2018.

Contact the Experienced Oregon Divorce Lawyers at Gearing Rackner & McGrath, LLP to Schedule a Confidential Consultation Today

If you are in the process of filing for divorce or are considering filing in the near future, contact the respected Oregon family law attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP. As veteran divorce lawyers, we have extensive experience handling Portland divorce cases and the related issues that frequently come up throughout the divorce process, including the determination of spousal support. We also handle modifications to existing spousal support orders. We provide custom-tailored legal advice and solutions for clients throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, including in Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Washington County, Clatsop County, Columbia County, Yamhill County, Clark County, Cowlitz County, Skamania County, and Klickitat County. 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.

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