The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Oregon
The laws of Oregon recognized the solemnization of marriage as a civil contract between consenting adults who are legally capable of making such decisions. However, per statutory provisions, married persons can seek a divorce or annulment from the judiciary. The judiciary shall maintain records of divorce and annulment proceedings, which are available to the public unless otherwise prohibited by a court order or statute.
What is an Oregon Divorce Decree?
A divorce decree—called a judgment of dissolution in Oregon—is a declaration that terminates a marriage (ORS § 107.115(2)). Upon signing the document, the court effectively dissolves the civil union and reverts the parties’ social and legal status before the solemnization.
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.
What is an Annulment in Oregon?
Per ORS § 107.005, an annulment voids marriage. It declares that the judiciary does not recognize the validity of civil contract couples signed upon the solemnization of marriage. Per ORS § 106.020 and ORS § 107.015, the grounds for annulment in Oregon include marital fraud, force, mental or legal incompetence to marry, bigamy, and marriage between kin. Annulment records are public records, according to Oregon sunshine laws. However, these records are only accessible at the office of the clerk at the court that adjudicated the petition.
Annulment vs. Divorce in Oregon
Although divorce and annulment share a few characteristics, both terms are intrinsically disparate. These terms share some similarities as a final adjudication removes marital obligations applicable to spouses. Thus, both parties revert and enjoy the social, personal, and legal rights applicable to unmarried individuals. Likewise, both divorce and annulment are civil actions that must follow the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure.
An annulment means that a marriage was never valid from the onset. The court, however, recognizes the validity of the marriage until the date the court issued the decree. Besides, different statutory requirements apply to individuals who intend to file for annulment and divorce. For instance, either spouse may initiate the suit for divorce at any time. However, a person must file for annulment as soon as he/she discovers the invalidity of the marriage. Otherwise, the court will consider the person as implicit by inaction in a later proceeding.
Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce In Oregon?
No. Filing an annulment or a divorce costs about the same, according to the judiciary and the official fee schedule. However, in practice, the cost of an annulment is often significantly higher when compared with an uncontested divorce filing.
What is an Uncontested Divorce in Oregon?
An uncontested divorce, or a no-fault dissolution, is a divorce where the petitioner makes no allegations of wrongdoing by a partner. Also called a summary dissolution, the court will grant this dissolution after concluding that the parties cannot reconcile to fulfill marital obligations (ORS § 107.025). Furthermore, both parties must have an equitable settlement agreement regarding child support, child custody, alimony, as well as the division of financial assets and debts.
Where to Get an Uncontested Divorce Form in Oregon
The intending divorcee must visit the office of the clerk of court in the county of residence of one or both spouses. Upon request, the clerk will provide a packet of forms for an uncontested divorce. Note that the court does not provide divorce forms online as of December 2020, but interested persons may get the divorce forms from their attorneys or a third-party service. However, bear in mind that the judiciary does not endorse the contents of third-party sites.
Meanwhile, the judiciary has provided an abridged guide on divorce in Oregon. Note that a prerequisite to initiating a divorce action is that one of the spouses must have resided in Oregon for at least six months (ORS § 107.075). Otherwise, one spouse must be a longtime resident of the state or resided in Oregon since the marriage.
Generally, records of uncontested divorces are public records. However, the court may restrict access to the divorce record if it contains information that violates the privacy or safety of the divorcees. Documents that are subject to sealing include the settlement agreement, and documents that contain sensitive financial information or information regarding minors (ORS § 192.355).
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How Do I Get a Copy of my Divorce Decree in Oregon?
The requester must visit the court that issued the divorce decree in person and during business hours. Use the Oregon court directory to find the address and contact information of courts in the state. At the circuit court, the custodian of divorce decrees is the clerk of courts. The requester must submit a formal request and provide the necessary details to help the court staff perform a search. The record custodian will require the names of the divorcees and the date of the court issued the decree. Depending on the record management system, the requester may also need to provide the docket number or the name of the presiding judge. Furthermore, he or she must pay the applicable copying fees. Additional fees apply for certifying the divorce decree.
Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
How Do I Get an Oregon Divorce Decree Online?
As of December 2020, the Oregon Judiciary does not process online requests for divorce decrees. Thus, persons who need a copy of the divorce decree must visit the circuit court in person and during business hours.