How to File For Divorce in Oregon
Divorce is the legal process that results in the dissolution of a marriage. Oregon has a divorce rate of 10.1 out of every 1,000 women aged 15 and above. There are two types of divorce in Oregon:
- Uncontested divorce or summary dissolution
- Contested divorce or complex dissolution
Summary dissolution applies to parties with simple divorce cases that can get a divorce decree without a court hearing. It is a much simpler process than the complex dissolution, as it involves less time and cost. Parties who agree to divorce terms and meet the court’s requirements may file for a summary divorce. Requirements for summary dissolutions include:
- Agree on issues like alimony, custody & visitation, and child support
- Must have been married for no more than ten (10 years)
- Neither party should be pregnant or have any children enrolled in high school.
- Both parties must be willing to give up spousal support rights.
- Both parties, together and individually, own assets worth less than $30,000
- Neither party has any pending divorce case in any other state.
- Both parties give up rights to temporary orders.
- Both parties, together and individually, have no more than $15,000 in debt.
Complex dissolutions or contested divorces apply to parties who disagree on divorce terms such as alimony, child support, asset division, and parties who do not qualify for summary dissolutions. Complex dissolutions involve court hearings, and in some cases, mediation and other third-party arbitration processes.
Divorce in Oregon can take anywhere from two (2) to six (6) weeks to months. Divorce timelines depend on the complexity of the divorce case, the issues involved, and the court’s schedule. Divorce is a complex legal process that requires knowledge of the state’s marriage dissolution laws and best court practices. Parties may choose to appear as Pro Se litigants or be represented by a divorce attorney; the court provides Pro Se litigants resources and information.
Do I need a Reason for Divorce in Oregon?
In Oregon, the court can grant the dissolution of a marriage if one of the parties is incapable of entering a contract or if one party obtains the consent of the other party by fraud or force (ORS 107).. The court can also grant a divorce if irreconcilable differences have caused an irreparable breakdown of the marriage. In other words, Oregon is one of the no-fault divorce states.
Oregon courts do not accept specific instances of wrongdoing as grounds for divorce; however, if the instance proves irreconcilable differences, or if the instance is otherwise relevant to the matter at hand, the court may accept said instances as evidence.
Why do I need a Divorce Lawyer?
Although it is possible to be self-represented in a divorce proceeding, divorce attorneys play significant roles, especially in contested or complex divorces. Apart from representing parties in a divorce case, divorce attorneys are knowledgeable about the state’s divorce laws and processes. The attorneys bring expertise and knowledge of divorce laws to simplify the divorce process and protect clients’ interests. Divorce attorneys assist with such processes as property and asset valuation and division, child custody, and spousal support resolution.
Hiring a divorce attorney can be expensive, but self-represented parties can also get legal help. Such parties may get legal counsel/advice or hire a consulting divorce attorney. This will reduce court costs and give self-represented litigants the assistance needed to navigate the divorce process and meet all court expectations and requirements. Getting legal counsel will ensure that the divorce parties correctly interpret the law and clearly understand what the law requires for marriage dissolution.
How do I Get Started in a Divorce in Oregon
For couples who got married in Oregon, either party must be an Oregon resident when filing to qualify for a divorce. Couples who did not get married in Oregon may file for divorce in Oregon if either party is an Oregon resident at the time of filing or if either party has lived in Oregon for six consecutive months before filing the divorce.
Parties who meet Oregon’s residency criteria may begin the divorce process by filing a divorce petition at the Circuit Court in the county where the petitioner or respondent lives. The petitioner must file the petition and several other forms with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The petitioner must then serve the other party in the marriage with a notice of filing. The petitioner’s attorney may file the notice on the petitioner’s behalf. Typically, Sheriffs or process servers serve the divorce notice. The petitioner or the petitioner’s children may not serve the respondent. If the petitioner receives public assistance benefits and child support, the petitioner must also serve the Department of Child Support.
The court may charge the petitioner filing and serving fees. Persons who cannot afford the fees may petition the court for a deferral or a waiver. Respondents who agree with the divorce terms listed in the petition may choose not to respond; however, respondents who do not agree and want to challenge the divorce terms must respond within 30 days of being served.
How to File for Divorce in Oregon Without a Lawyer?
The courts provide information and resources for parties who choose to be self-represented in divorce proceedings. However, the information provided does not replace legal advice, and Pro Se parties must consult divorce attorneys for legal advice. Couples who qualify for summary dissolutions may file for divorce without a lawyer. Summary dissolutions are typically quick and do not involve court hearings.
Mediation is another way to file for divorce without a lawyer. In mediation, a trained third-party (the mediator) helps parties make mutually beneficial decisions about divorce issues such as child support and custody, asset and debt division, and visitation rights. Mediation can help couples avoid trial altogether or reduce the number of issues that the court will address in a trial. In Oregon, the courts encourage mediation and sometimes connect parties to mediators. Case parties may also use private mediators.
How Does Oregon Divorce Mediation Work?
Divorce mediation is a conflict resolution process where a professional third party mediates discussions and decisions about divorce issues to help the parties agree. Issues that divorce parties can resolve in mediation include property division, child custody, child support, and other family law issues. Oregon courts encourage mediation, especially in cases that involve children. This is to help parents make the best decisions possible for the children instead of leaving the decision to attorneys and judges.
Mediators receive training in conflict resolution and typically have backgrounds in mental health, law, conflict resolution. Oregon courts provide divorce parties with mediators, often called Court-Connected Mediators. The court may not provide a mediator in cases that do not involve children. It is worth noting that mediators may not be qualified to mediate some conflicts. Parties who engage private mediators must inquire about the mediator’s expertise.
Typically, only divorce parties and the mediator attend mediation. However, if the parties agree to include attorneys, the attorneys may attend. Additionally, persons who prefer to mediate in languages other than English may request an interpreter. Depending on the case parties’ preferences, the mediator may meet with both parties simultaneously or individually. Case parties may also need to give some information to the mediator before the sessions begin.
Some counties in Oregon make it mandatory for parents to attend mediation if the case involves minors in a family law case. In some other Oregon counties, parents in custody cases must attend mediation sessions before the court holds a hearing. In some counties, mediation is not mandatory; however, the county’s courts will connect case parties to private mediators on request.
Mediators may modify the process if one of the parties does not feel safe due to violence or threats from the other case party. In some cases, especially where safety is in question, the courts allow case parties to waive mediation.
If case parties reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator or attorneys representing the case parties will write down the agreement and have the case parties sign the agreement. The mediator must then submit the agreement to the court for the judge’s approval and signature. The mediation process is not complete without the judge’s signature.
Parties who do not reach an agreement in mediation may proceed to a trial or hearing. Mediation is a confidential process; therefore, the judge will not be privy to anything discussed in mediation. The law also mandates mediators to be impartial and to hold all mediation discussions and agreements in confidence. However, if one of the parties is in danger or a child or party is abused, the mediator must make a report to the court.
Mediation fees differ from one Oregon county to another. Some counties offer mediation at no charge, while some offer it as part of a program. Mediators may waive or reduce fees for parties who cannot afford to pay.
How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in Oregon?
If case parties reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator or the case parties’ attorneys will draft the agreement and have the case parties sign the agreement. The mediator will then present the agreement to the court for the judge’s signature. Divorce is final when the judge signs the agreement and delivers a divorce judgment.
Parties who cannot reach an agreement in mediation may go to trial, in which case, the time it takes for a divorce to be final will depend on many factors, including the court’s schedule and the complexity of the case.
Are Divorce Records Public in Oregon?
According to ORS 432.360, divorce records in the County Recording Officer or County Clerk’s custody are public and subject to disclosure. However, details such as the social security number of the case parties must remain confidential. Divorce indexes contain basic information such as the divorced parties’ names, the dissolution date, the divorce certificate number, and the county where the court finalized the divorce. Interested parties may check county libraries or contact county librarians for information on divorce indexes.
Divorce decrees are records that the court produces. It contains the final divorce judgment that the judge delivers. Since divorce decrees are court records, divorce decrees are available for public inspection unless the court seals the records. Interested parties must make requests for divorce decrees in person at the Circuit Court in the county where the divorce was finalized. Requesting parties must note that the court may not provide certified copies of divorce decrees.
The third type of divorce record in Oregon is the divorce certificate, which is useful for legal purposes. The State Registrar issues divorce certificates and certified copies of divorce records. State laws restrict access to divorce certificates and certified copies of divorce records until 50 years after the court finalizes the divorce (ORS 432.380).. Only authorized persons may access or obtain certified copies of divorce records within 50 years of the finalization, and such persons include:
- Case parties or persons named on the record
- The case parties’ spouse and children aged 18 and older
- The case parties’ siblings, parents, and grandparents
- The case parties’ legal guardian or attorney
- Persons with court authorization
- Government agencies
How do I Get Oregon Divorce Records?
Divorce indexes and decrees are public information. Persons interested in accessing divorce indexes may check the Oregon Vital Records Index or visit the County Central Library in the county where the court finalized the divorce. Requesting parties may also call the County Librarian for more information about divorce indexes. However, requesting parties must note that it is impossible to use divorce indexes for official or legal purposes and the indexes are only useful for personal information. Divorce indexes contain basic information such as the names of the divorced parties, the date of dissolution, the county where the court finalized the divorce, and the divorce certificate number. It does not contain detailed information such as asset division or child custody plans. The social security numbers of the divorced parties are also confidential.
The Circuit Court issues divorce decrees; to obtain divorce decrees, interested parties may submit written requests to the Marriage Dissolution Records Unit or the Circuit Court’s record-keeping unit. Requesting parties may also make records requests in person at the courthouse. The court may charge fees to produce records of divorce decrees.
Oregon state laws restrict access to divorce certificates and certified copies of divorce records for 50 years after the court finalizes the divorce. Only authorized persons may access certified copies of divorce records within the first 50 years. To request divorce certificates, interested parties may contact the Oregon Center for Health Statistics Certification Unit. Requesting parties must submit a filled order form and state the relationship to the case parties or persons named on the record.
Interested parties may request certified divorce records in person at:
800 NE Oregon Street,
A non-refundable $28 fee applies for one record search and $25 for additional copies of the same record. Interested parties may also request certified divorce records by regular or rush mail. A $25 fee applies for one record search and additional copies of the same record. Requesting parties must mail the Divorce Record Order form along with payment by check or money order to:
Oregon Vital Records
PO Box 14050
Portland OR 97293
Interested parties may also request certified divorce records over the phone via 1–888–896–4988. The phone line is available at all hours of the day, and the $49.95 fee payment can only be made with credit or debit cards.
Oregon also offers online requests for certified divorce records. All records requests must include a copy of the requesting party’s identification, the requesting party’s reason, and signature.