Basics of Oregon Dissolution (Divorce) Process
The divorce process in Oregon can be complicated, full of paperwork, and legal jargon. Use this guide to figure out the basics and what you can accomplish.
Filing the PetitionYou, the petitioner, must have lived in Oregon for at least six months before filing for dissolution in the state. You can file for dissolution in the county where you or your spouse live in. The forms are available online or at the courthouse (where you will be charged a fee for the packet). There is a fee for filing the petition—however, you can request a waiver or a deferral of the fee depending on your income.
This is the court's website for all their available forms:
Serving the Petition and Waiting for a ResponseAfter filing the petition, it must be “served” on your spouse (the respondent). A third party (like the local sheriff’s department) must give a copy to the respondent. The respondent can be served in his home, his place of employment, or anywhere he is known to be. It can get complicated if you do not know where to find the respondent—it is recommended that you seek legal advice at this point.
The respondent has 30 days after being served with the petition to file his response. He will also have to pay a filing fee or request a waiver/deferral. He can accept or reject the items in your petition and request other items.
Parent Class and MediationIf you have minor children, you and your spouse will have to attend a parent education program. The name of the program varies by county, but it is mandatory throughout. You can also request a waiver of the enrollment fee depending on your financial circumstances. Once you complete the program, you must submit your certificate of completion to the court.
The court may also require you to attend mediation. In mediation, a third-party (the mediator) will help you and your spouse reach an agreement regarding custody and parenting time that favors the best interests of the child. The court will give you paperwork allowing you and your spouse to choose a mediator. In the alternative, the court will assign you a mediator. If there is a mediated agreement, this will be signed by you, your spouse, and the mediator and will be approved by the judge. If you or your spouse do not agree with the mediator’s recommendation, then the matter will be set for trial.
Temporary OrdersEither party can file a request for temporary orders of child/spousal support and property division. These can also be filed with the initial petition. The judge will set a hearing date and issue a temporary order. This can be very useful when there are disputes of parenting time and support and are usually valid until the court issues a final judgment closing the case.
Status Updates and TrialIn many jurisdictions, a judge will be assigned to your case after you file the petition. The judge’s staff will set a status update to meet with the parties. This is a very informal proceeding where the parties inform the judge what the issues are.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on any or all of the issues regarding your dissolution, your case will be sent to trial. At this point, you are strongly encouraged to have an attorney with you. Both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses and to cross-examine. The judge will then issue an order setting forth all the matters related to the case. This order becomes binding the moment it is issued.