Dissolution of marriage can be granted to any Oregon resident who has lived in the state for at least 6 months.
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If the residency requirements are met, then one of the spouses may file a petition in the county in which he or she lives, or the county in which his or her spouse lives. The petition must be filed with the Circuit Court Clerks office, which is located at the County Court House. There is no need for the filing spouse (called the Petitioner) and the Respondent spouse to live apart when the divorce is filed; however the couple must consider themselves separated.
Once the Petitioner has filed the Petition and all other necessary documents, it is his or her responsibility to have the documents served on the Respondent. Service must occur through either a private process server, or the County Sheriff. The Petitioner cannot give the Respondent the papers personally.
Once the respondent has received the Petition and other various divorce forms and papers, he or she must then decide if the terms laid out within the petition are reasonable. If the couple is in agreement about the terms of the divorce, then there is no need for the Respondent to respond to the petition. However, if the Respondent wants to challenge the terms listed within the petition, he or she has 30 days to file a response or appearance after the service.
If the respondent cannot be found, the court will often act on his or her behalf and once a "substituted service" occurs, that is generally sufficient to allow the Petitioner to begin the dissolution. If a respondent does receive service but doesn't file an order for appearance (a response), then the case goes into default, which means that there is no need for either party to appear in court. Once the Petitioner has submitted the final documents, the judge must sign the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, and thus ends the marriage.
The 90-Day Waiting Period: Temporary Orders and Discovery
If the respondent can be found, and he or she has filed a response or appearance, then the couple must begin the 90-day wait period before their divorce can go to trial. This wait time could be extended if either spouse contests something, as that makes the trial more complicated.
Since this time period is not fixed, often one spouse must ask the other for temporary relief with anything from child care to mortgage payments. The basic goal of temporary relief is to maintain the "status quo" that occurred during the marriage the spouses and their children. All temporary orders become null once the court has decided the division of property, debts, and the children.
Once temporary orders have been placed, the couple enters the "discovery" period. During the period of discovery each spouse must release all of their financial information (i.e. Wage records, credit card balances, properties owned, car titles, pension and retirement plans, tax returns, etc.). Discovery is also the time for mediation, usually assigned to couples with children, or couples who are having many disputes. Mediation ensures that all voices are heard, and allows for the appraisal and assessment of property. During the discovery period, children are considered especially carefully. The court may appoint an attorney to represent the children in the case, or the parents may get their children psychoanalyzed to ensure that the child's wants and wishes are understood and met to the best ability of the court.
Trial or Settlement
Once 90 days have passed, the case can go to trial; however, trial is a rare event. Most dissolution cases are settled outside of court, often with many meetings and conferences. Recently couples have chosen "pretrial settlement conferences" as a less abrasive and more cost effective way to handle the dissolution. If a couple cannot settle without going to trail, the standard procedure of any civil law suit is then followed. Each side presents evidence and makes statements, and at the end of the trial the judge makes a final decision that settles all issues within the case. Things are separated in an equitable manner, meaning fair, not necessarily equal. The Judge then signs a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage which does not become final until 30 days later. If within those 30 days an event occurs that makes the couple wish to discontinue the pursuit for dissolution the marriage may then continue as if there was no divorce.
If one spouse is unhappy with the judgment he or she does have the chance to appeal, however appeals are not always successful and they can be very expensive.
A Note About Summary Dissolution in Oregon
If a divorce is uncontested, it may enter into a "short form" or Summary Dissolution. This is a process for people whose divorces are very simple. If a couple qualifies for a short form divorce, the forms may be obtained at the county courthouse.
A Note about Forms
If the parties have reached an agreement and they do not desire to proceed with a lengthy trial they can use Rocket Lawyer's easy interview process to complete a Divorce Settlement Agreement. The Divorce Settlement Agreement facilitates the division of property, assets, debts and liabilities as well as settle matters of child support, custody and visitation.
The State of Oregon has made it very easy to access the forms necessary for a dissolution of marriage. That said, the state makes it very clear throughout their divorce information websites, that attempting a non summary dissolution case without a lawyer can be very difficult. If you need help, you can use Rocket Lawyer to Find a Lawyer who's right for your situation and needs.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.