Same-sex marriages have been legally recognized in the state of Oregon since May 19, 2014, due to the U.S. Federal District Court ruling in Geiger v. Kitzhaber. In 2015, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriages legal throughout the country. As a result, the state judges started to grant any same-sex divorce in Oregon if the couple met the residency requirements. A gay divorce in Oregon can be obtained if one of the spouses has been a resident of the state for six months before filing for marriage dissolution.
Divorce laws in Oregon are the same for same-sex unions and heterosexual marriages. Spouses can file for same-sex divorce in Oregon if they meet specific requirements. First, one of them must be a resident of the state. Second, their marriage has to be official because Oregon law does not recognize common-law marriage. However, if this type of union was legal in another state when it was entered, Oregon will recognize it as valid.
Same-sex divorce online
The numerous opportunities of the Internet make it possible to simplify many situations, such as a marriage dissolution. Same-sex couples can choose to prepare for their divorce over the Internet in a fast and easy way. It is a type of do-it-yourself divorce, but you do not have to collect or complete the documents that need to be filed with the court by yourself. There are specialized web platforms that help their clients to prepare for a marriage dissolution without a lawyer.
One of them is oregononlinedivorce.com, which helps prepare same-sex divorce paperwork in Oregon and provides the clients with necessary printable documents for a fee of $139.The only condition for same-sex couples who file for divorce in Oregon and want to use web services is to have an uncontested divorce, where spouses have an agreement about the terms of their dissolution. Otherwise, cases with contested issues require hiring an attorney.
Same-sex divorce papers in Oregon
Same-sex divorce papers in Oregon have specific differences depending on the presence of minor children and the type of case (contested or uncontested). In all instances, a petition for marriage dissolution should be submitted to the court. Cases involving children may include additional forms such as a child support worksheet and a parenting plan.
It can be challenging for an ordinary person without a legal background to find information about how to file a same-sex divorce in Oregon. Each case is unique and requires a knowledgeable person to inspect it. The necessary same-sex divorce forms in Oregon can be collected by hiring a lawyer or using a web service. The second option is more affordable and time-saving.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Oregon
A divorce process in Oregon for same-sex spouses is subject to specific rules, which are the same for all couples regardless of their sexual orientation. To file for divorce in Oregon, one of the same-sex spouses must meet the residency requirements. Then a petitioner (the spouse filing for divorce) has to indicate in the petition the reasons for the marriage dissolution.
Since Oregon is a no-fault state, the couples can get a same-sex divorce in Oregon without proving that the other party committed any misdemeanor. It is sufficient to state that the marriage is broken because of irreconcilable differences between the parties.
Also, any person married to a same-sex spouse can get a divorce in Oregon on the following fault-based grounds (Oregon Revised Statutes § 107.015):
- one of the parties was underaged and lacked the understanding to consent to marriage;
- the consent by one of the parties to get married was obtained by fraud or force.
Custody of the Child
During a marriage dissolution procedure, the court will determine the issue of child custody for all minor children to the marriage. Usually, if both spouses are fit for parenting, the court will encourage joint custody. It is considered to be in the child’s best interest to have frequent and meaningful contact with each parent.
One of the requirements for couples with children is to submit a parenting plan that has to specify the following:
- Schedule of holidays, vacations, weekends, and residential time in general that a child spends with each parent;
- Responsibilities and decision-making;
- Sharing information;
- Communication by telephone;
- Ways of resolving disputes.
If the spouses cannot reach an agreement about a parenting plan, the court will develop it according to what is best for the child. Also, both parents may be ordered to attend a parenting class that will help them prepare their children for the effects of their marriage dissolution.
In determining the custody and visitation rights, a judge considers the following factors (ORS § 107.137):
- the relationship between the child and all family members;
- the interest of the parents or other parties in the child;
- any history of domestic abuse;
- the willingness of each parent to encourage the child’s continuing contact with the other parent (unless the court finds that one spouse has assaulted the other or was charged with child abuse).
Both parents share the obligation to support their minor children financially. When calculating child support, the following criteria are considered (ORS § 25.275):
The income and all resources of each parent;
All real and personal property;
The earning potential of each party;
The needs and of all parties;
The existing support orders;
Other relevant factors.
The formula is based on the Income Shares Model. Each parent’s share corresponds to the same proportion in which individual income is related to joint income.
Child support payments continue while the following circumstances are active:
- a child is enrolled full-time in school and under 21 years old;
- a child is unmarried and cannot fully support themselves.
Under Oregon law, failure to comply with child support orders can be punished by fines or even imprisonment.
In Oregon, spousal support may be awarded by a judge in appropriate amounts without regard to marital misconduct. The court may order one of the following types of support (ORS § 107.136):
Transitional support for a period needed to receive training and education necessary to find suitable employment;
Compensatory support to the party that contributed to the education, career, and earning capacity of the other party;
Spousal maintenance as a contribution for a specified or indefinite period.
For each type of support listed above, there are relevant factors reviewed by a judge:
- the length of the marriage;
- skills and work experience of the spouse seeking support;
- needs of all parties;
- custodial responsibilities;
- tax consequences;
- the age and health of the parties;
- the standard of living during the marriage;
- other important factors.
Either party may apply for the modification of an existing support order if they can show significant changes in the circumstances that affect the need for support or the ability to pay it.
Divorce proceedings may include the division of property between the spouses. It consists of both real and personal estate, retirement plans, pensions, and interests from them. Separate property acquired by gift or inheritance belongs to only one of the spouses and cannot be divided (ORS § 107.105). The court will need full disclosure and evaluation of all property.
How is property divided for same-sex couples in Oregon? The court considers each party’s contribution to the acquisition of all assets and debts during the marriage. A judge will divide assets proceeding from the assumption that both spouses made an equal contribution to their purchase.
One of the stages that a couple with contested issues may go through is mediation. It is a method for resolving conflicts out of the courtroom. Negotiations between the spouses are facilitated by an impartial third party called a mediator who has been trained in mediation techniques.
The issues that most often need to be resolved during mediation are child custody and parenting. Spouses can go through the process with or without their attorneys. The sessions are strictly confidential and usually inexpensive and quick if the parties are willing to participate in good faith. If the couple cannot reach an amicable agreement before the court hearing, the matter will proceed to trial.
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Oregon
When spouses file for divorce in Oregon intending to end same-sex marriage, they must pay a filing fee. Its amount depends on each county’s local rules and sometimes the complexity of the couple’s case. On average, it costs $300 to start the process. The court can waive this fee upon request but only for low-income applicants. Some corroborating financial information may be required for a judge to sign an application to waiver the fees.
Another question is how to serve the respondent because it also affects the sum of fees. If a Sheriff performs the serving, a petitioner will have to pay an additional cost of $30-$50. And if a person married to a same-sex spouse wants to get a divorce in Oregon and the spouse is out of state, the fee for the serving the papers will be higher.
How long will it take
Divorce for same-sex couples in Oregon can take some time before finalizing. The length of the divorce process depends on many factors, such as the case complexity and the presence of substantial property and minor children. Simple cases consist of filing the documents, attending a hearing, and waiting for the final judgment. Since there is no waiting period in Oregon, these cases can end in a few months. On the contrary, if a couple goes to a divorce trial, they will likely spend about a year or more trying to get their marriage dissolution decree.