A divorce is a civil lawsuit to end a marriage. Between 13,000 to 15,000 divorces occur in Oregon each year. To begin the divorce process, a spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form in the county where either spouse resides. The spouse who files for dissolution is the petitioner, and the other spouse is the respondent.
The petition for dissolution of marriage states the reason for filing for divorce. For the case to move forward in the Oregon court, it must meet the residence requirements. At least one of the spouses must be an Oregon resident or domiciled in the state:
- At the time the suit begins; and
- For the six consecutive months immediately before filing the petition
During the divorce process, spouses must submit certain personal documents to each other and the court. Under Oregon law, the spouses must provide each other with the following personal documents that they have in their possession and control :
- All federal and state tax returns filed by both parties for the three previous calendar years
- Records of earning or receiving income for the current calendar year
- All financial statements and applications for the last two calendar years
- Documentation related to real property that either spouse has an interest
- Titles and registrations for vehicles and other personal property in either party’s name or has an interest
- Documents regarding stocks, bonds, and other investments either party has an interest
- Most recent statements for retirement plans, IRA pension plans, and the like that either spouse has an interest
- Records of all accounts at financial institutions and brokerage accounts have an interest or signing privileges in the past year, whether open or closed
The spouse who files for divorce must give the respondent-spouse a summons and the petition for dissolution of marriage. The summons informs the respondent that his spouse filed for divorce and must contain:
- Name and parties of the case
- Name of the court where the petitioner filed the case
- Direction to the respondent on how to respond to the petition and consequences for failing to respond
- Time limit to respond to the petition
- Petitioner’s mailing address where to serve the response
- Notice to the respondent
Oregon family courts require certain documents the petitioner must file with the court. After filing, the spouse must serve the documents on the respondent-spouse. The forms are:
- Record of Dissolution of Marriage, Annulment or Registered Domestic Partnership
- Notice of Statutory Restraining Order Preventing Dissipation of Assets
- Confidential Information Form
- Notice of Confidential Information Form
- Uniform Support Declaration
If the spouses have minor children, the petitioner may need to provide documents such as:
- Child support worksheet
- Parenting plan
The record of dissolution of marriage is a form from the Oregon Health Authority. The information helps to keep track of the state’s annual divorce information. The information becomes a part of the state’s health and vital statistics.
Once the petitioner serves the petition and summons on the respondent, a restraining order automatically goes into effect. It remains effective until the final judgment or dismissal of the divorce case. The order prohibits either spouse from wasting marital assets. Neither spouse may exercise a power of attorney or health care representative authority over the other spouse during the retraining order. The petitioner must attach a copy of the notice of statutory restraining order to the petition and summons.
The petitioner completes and files a Confidential Information Form. The court must receive completed forms from the petitioner, respondent, and the spouses’ unmarried adult children ages 18 to 20 years old. The petitioner and respondent must file and notify each other that they filed the confidential information form.
The respondent must provide the petitioner with a response to the petition within 30 days of service of the petition, summons, and other required documents. The summons instructs the respondent on how to serve the response to the petitioner. The respondent must file the response with the court and mail a copy to the petitioner.
The spouse who files for divorce may seek spousal support from the other spouse. However, if the spouses cannot agree on the terms of the support, they may file a uniform spousal declaration. If the marriage has children, including minors, dependents, and adult children ages 18 to 20, the petitioner may also request child support. The petitioner-spouse may submit a child support worksheet with the petition.
Divorce cases involving children also establish child custody and parenting plan. The spouses may develop a general or detailed plan. A general parenting plan may outline the parents’ responsibilities, but it must state the noncustodial parent’s minimum parenting time and access to the children. Oregon law lists provisions that detailed parenting plans may contain, including:
- Holiday, birthday and vacation planning
- Telephone access
- Information access and sharing
- Residential schedule
- Decision-making and responsibilities
The judge may create a detailed parenting plan if either parent requests or parents cannot develop one together.
The dissolution of a marriage can quickly resolve when spouses agree to issues, such as support, custody, and property division. When both parties agree to all divorce issues, they file the Declaration in Support of Judgment form. However, if the parties cannot agree, the case may proceed to a trial.
Each spouse must file a Statement of Assets and Liabilities with the court and serve the document on each other within 14 days before the trial date. The Statement lists the description and value of each party’s assets. The form also requires each spouse to name which party the court should give each listed property.
Whether the divorce case resolves by agreement or trial, a judge must sign the General Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage to terminate the marriage. If the case settles by agreement, both spouses must sign and file the Judgment. Then, they submit the document to the court. The judge may order only one party to complete the Judgment form if the case concludes after a trial.