Divorce in Oregon
- Divorce, or dissolution of marriage – Divorce is the legal end of a marriage. The legal name for divorce in Oregon is dissolution of marriage.
- Petitioner – The spouse who starts a divorce case in Oregon by turning in divorce paperwork at the court.
- Respondent – The other spouse in a divorce case. This is the spouse who gets a copy of the Petitioner’s divorce papers.
- Petition – A legal document that starts a divorce case. A Petition gives information about what the Petitioner wants to happen in the divorce case.
- Response – A legal document that the Respondent can file after they get served with a divorce Petition if they disagree with things the Petitioner asks for in the divorce. The Respondent only has 30 days to file this document after getting served with a divorce Petition.
- Service – The process of officially giving someone court papers and letting them know that they’ve been named in a court case. There are lots of rules about how to serve someone properly.
- Uncontested divorce – A divorce case where the Respondent does not file a Response.
- Contested divorce – A divorce case where the Respondent does file a Response.
- Divorce judgment – The official court document, signed by a judge, that finishes your divorce case. A divorce judgment contains the rules for your divorce. You are not divorced until you get a divorce judgment.
Divorce is about more than ending a marriage. Some other reasons people get divorced are to:
- Get legal custody of their kids;
- Make a formal visitation schedule (called a parenting plan) for their kids;
- Get child support or spousal support; or
- Divide property and debts in a way that is fair.
No. If you want a divorce, the court will give you a divorce. Your spouse can disagree about the details, but they can’t stop you from getting a divorce.
If you need help leaving an unsafe situation, you can:
- Call 911 in an emergency;
- Contact a local domestic violence organization; or
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.7233, visit thehotline.org, or text “Start” to 88788.
You can also consider whether a restraining order is right for you. You can find more information about restraining orders on this page.
No. You can only start a divorce case in Oregon if:
- You or your spouse currently live in Oregon; and
- One of these things is true:
- You or your spouse have lived in Oregon for the last six months; or
- You got married in Oregon.
If you have lived in Oregon for six months, but your child hasn’t, you should get legal advice before starting a divorce in Oregon. Visit our referral database to find legal help in your area.
No. Anyone can get a divorce in Oregon if they meet the rules above.
No. You do not need a lawyer to get a divorce. Many people get divorced without a lawyer. Oregon's state court website has free divorce forms you can use.
But, if you have any questions, you should find legal help. The Referral Database can provide you with information about where to find free or low-cost legal help with your case.
No. You can get a divorce if:
- You and your spouse don’t get along; and
- You do not see any way to fix your problems.
On legal documents in Oregon, this is called irreconcilable differences. It is the only reason you need to end your marriage.
Yes, but it will take longer.
After you start a divorce case, you must give your spouse a copy of your divorce papers. This is called service. The court expects you to try to find your spouse so they can be served. If you can’t find them, you can ask the court to let you serve them a different way. For more information, refer to this Oregon state court guide.
If you and your spouse have a child aged 18, 19, or 20, they must be named in your divorce case, and they must be given notice. A judge can’t give parents custody or parenting time for a child 18 or older.
The court can order child support for a child aged 18, 19, or 20, if the child is:
- Not married; and
- Attending school at least half-time.
To start a divorce case, you must turn in legal papers with your local court in the Oregon county where you or the other person lives.
You will also need to pay a filing fee of about $301. There is also a $301 filing fee to turn in a divorce response. You can ask the court to waive or defer this fee if you can’t afford it.
If you’re ready to start a case, Oregon courts have free forms and free help for people wanting to get a divorce. You can find divorce forms on Oregon's state court website.
Turning in court papers is just the first step to getting a divorce!
Yes. Your spouse has a right to know about and respond to any case that involves them. If you want a divorce, you must give your spouse a copy of the papers you filed with the court. This is called service.
The court will not tell your spouse for you.
There are strict rules about how to notify your spouse. This Oregon state court guide has more information about how to serve your court papers.
If your spouse starts a divorce, they must give you a copy of the court papers they filed for the case to move forward. The copies will include:
- Summons – This is like a cover letter. It has important information about what you need to do next.
- Petition – This tells you what your spouse is asking for. Read this carefully!
- Other notices – The court will give both of you extra information about your rights and the law in Oregon.
Read the papers carefully. They tell you what your spouse wants. You need to act quickly if you don’t agree with them.
If you agree with everything your spouse asked for:
- You don’t have to do anything, but the quickest way to finalize your divorce is to file a stipulated judgment (both sides agree) signed by both of you.
- If you do nothing, your spouse can file the next set of court papers and have a judge sign a divorce judgment. This will end your marriage.
If you disagree with some or all of the petition:
- You must file a legal document called a response with the court within 30 days from the date you were served. If you do nothing, your spouse can get a divorce judgment with everything they asked for in the petition. You can get the response form at:
If you file a response, you must mail copy of your response to your spouse.
The Acceptance of Service form tells the court that you got the divorce papers. It does not affect your right to tell the court what you want. You have 30 days from the date you sign the Acceptance of Service to file papers telling the court what you want. This is called a response. You can find response forms on Oregon's state court website.
Not signing the Acceptance of Service doesn’t stop the divorce.
In most situations, the answer is no.
But if you have lost contact with your spouse, and they don’t know how to find you, your spouse can ask the court to let them notify you in a different way. (For example, the judge might tell them they can post the legal papers in the courthouse.)
This is not common. If you are worried that a case has been filed and you haven’t been served, you can contact the local court where your spouse lives to check the court records.
If your spouse does nothing, after 30 days, you can ask the court to give you a divorce judgment that matches what you requested in your Petition. Lawyers and court staff often call this type of divorce judgment a default judgment.
You will have to fill out more forms to ask the court for a default judgment. You can find divorce forms on Oregon's state court website.
Your case becomes a contested divorce case. The court will contact you with next steps. The process varies by county. In some counties, the court will schedule a court date as soon as a Response is filed.
Check with your local circuit court to find out more.
Parents: If you and your spouse have children together who are younger than 18, both parents must:
- Take a parent education class, and
- Go to mediation to come up with a parenting plan.
Your court should provide you with information about how to do both of these things. If they don’t, call your court for information.
It depends. There is no “waiting period” in Oregon after you file your divorce papers. But there are many factors that affect how long it takes to finish a divorce.
- If you both agree on everything: It can take one to two months. You and your spouse can file divorce papers together. Once a judge reviews your papers and signs them, you are divorced.
- If your spouse ignores your case: It can take one to two months. But, you must file extra paperwork with the court if your spouse ignores your case. A judge will review this paperwork and if everything is correct, a judge will sign your paperwork and you are divorced.
- If you can’t agree: It can take six months to more than a year. You and your spouse will need to go through the contested divorce process. There are many steps in this process.
These are estimates, and the timeline can vary depending on your case and your local court.
It can also take longer to get a divorce if you use the wrong forms or fill out your forms incorrectly. If you need help with court forms, visit the Referral Database to find legal help.
You are officially divorced when a judge signs a legal document, called a divorce judgment.
You can ask the court for a temporary order for important issues, like:
- Custody and parenting time;
- Child support;
- Spousal support; or
- Use of property like a family home or car.
You will have to fill out more court forms. There is no filing fee for temporary orders. You can find temporary orders forms on Oregon's state court website.
Once you start a divorce case and give your spouse a copy of your divorce papers, both of you must follow a special court order called a statutory restraining order.
This order tells both spouses that they cannot:
- Sell, destroy, move, or get rid of real estate, cars, or other valuable property;
- Make changes to insurance policies (unless both spouses agree); or
- Make large purchases (unless both spouses agree, or it is necessary to keep either spouse or the children safe and healthy).
It depends. In Oregon, you only have to see a judge if you and your spouse disagree about the details of your divorce. For example, if you can’t agree on a plan for your kids or how to divide your property.
If you and your spouse agree on all the details of your divorce, a judge can grant you a divorce without meeting you, based on what you put in your paperwork.
That is up to you. It is usually a good idea to try to make agreements about some or all of your case by talking with your spouse. Most people are happier if they decide these issues for themselves.
You do not have to talk to your spouse if:
- You are afraid of your spouse; or
- You have a restraining order (or protective order) that says your spouse may not contact you.
Your spouse’s lawyer may try to get information from you or try to get you to settle your case. You do not have to talk to the lawyer if you don’t want to.
But you do have to respond to legal papers your spouse’s lawyer sends to you. For example, your spouse’s lawyer may request that you provide documents.
If you get legal papers from your spouse’s lawyer and you aren’t sure what you should do, it is a good idea to get legal help. Visit our referral directory to find legal help in your area.
No. You and your spouse can get a divorce without lawyers. But, if you can find a lawyer, it is very helpful to have a lawyer look over your court papers.
A lawyer can help you understand your rights. They might also see things you could miss, like tax problems, issues with dividing your home or land, or issues with retirement accounts.
If you worry about affording a lawyer, here are some options to consider:
- Ask your spouse to help you pay for your lawyer: If your spouse’s income is higher than yours, a judge can order your spouse to pay you money so you can hire a lawyer. You need to file more paperwork with the court to make this request.
- Find a lawyer that provides unbundled legal help. You can save money by hiring a lawyer to help you with only the most complicated parts of your case. This type of legal help is called unbundled legal services or limited scope representation. You can call around and ask private lawyers if they’re willing to provide this type of help.
- Find a lawyer that provides sliding scale services. If your income is low, you may qualify for reduced rates or sliding-scale services. Sliding scale help means the attorney bases their hourly rate on your income.
- Look for free legal help. You can also get free legal help from courthouse facilitators, lawyer in the library programs, legal aid, domestic violence advocates, or other community organizations.
- Use free Oregon court forms. Oregon's state court website has free family law forms. You can also get these forms from your local courthouse, but some courts charge a copy fee.
You can use the Referral Database to find legal help in your area.
Tip: Every Oregon courthouse has family law staff (sometimes called “facilitators”), who can help people who do not have lawyers. Facilitators can provide forms and helpful information about court procedures. There is no charge for this service. Court staff can’t give you legal advice or tell you what you should do based on your situation.
This is a time to:
- Gather information;
- Exchange documents with your spouse; or
- Try to settle your disagreements.
Do you want to find a lawyer?
Search for lawyers and organizations that provide free and low-cost legal help.