Contested divorces are the most common types of divorce, but if you and your spouse either are still amicable or simply want to speed up the divorce process, it may be worth your time to look into an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is essentially a divorce by agreement. If you and your spouse can agree to end the fighting and come to terms, filing for an uncontested divorce may make your lives easier.
This article will explain the nature of an uncontested divorce and Oregon uncontested divorce law. If you still have any questions after reading this article or would like to file for an uncontested divorce, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney.
Uncontested Divorce in Oregon Defined
Uncontested divorce in Oregon is relatively straightforward, and it is often referred to as a divorce by stipulation. Under a divorce by stipulation, spouses seeking a divorce merely need to mutually agree to the terms of the divorce by signing a stipulated judgment enforcing a marital settlement agreement. By agreeing to the terms of a divorce ahead of time, spouses can save substantial time and energy by not needing to litigate messy contested divorces.
Spouses should also note that a special fast-track version of an uncontested divorce exists in Oregon called a summary dissolution. A marriage may be dissolved by summary dissolution1 where the residency and grounds requirements are met, the couple has no children, the marriage lasted shorter than 10 years, neither spouse has an interest in real property, neither spouse has debts of more than $15,000, the total value of personal property owned by either spouse totals less than $30,000, and both spouses waive the right to spousal support. A summary divorce may occur immediately under these terms. If you believe that you may qualify for a summary divorce, more information can be found on the Oregon Judiciary’s website.2
Requirements for Seeking a Oregon Uncontested Divorce
To file for uncontested divorce in Oregon, the filing spouses must meet certain requirements. Any questions about these requirements can be answered by an experienced Oregon divorce attorney or family lawyer.
The first requirement for seeking an uncontested divorce in Oregon is the residence requirement.3 If the marriage was created in Oregon, then either spouse must simply live in Oregon at the time the divorce was filed. If the marriage was not created in Oregon however, either spouse must have been living within Oregon for at least six months.
The second requirement for seeking a standard uncontested divorce is irreconcilable differences. Oregon has abolished at-fault grounds for divorce, and the only ground for divorce is irreconcilable differences. An Oregon court may grant a divorce where the spouses allege that irreconcilable differences between the spouses have caused the irremediable breakdown on the marriage.4
The final requirement for a standard uncontested divorce in Oregon is the creation of a marital settlement agreement. The Oregon legislature has established a policy of favoring divorce settlements where possible and has made agreement between the parties simple. If the parties present a settlement agreement to the court, the court will enforce the agreement by a joint stipulation of the parties to the terms of the agreement.
On Spousal Support and Marital Settlement Agreements
When spouses sit down to discuss the terms of their divorce, it is often beneficial for the spouses to sign a legal marital settlement agreement. A marital settlement agreement is NOT a formal divorce. A marital settlement agreement is a contract between spouses that lays out their agreement and terms of their separation. A fully completed marital settlement agreement can serve as the basis for an uncontested divorce, and may be helpful in filling out the required divorce paperwork. Prior to signing any marital settlement agreement (or any contract with your spouse), you should have an experienced attorney review the terms of the contract for you.
While a marital settlement agreement does not technically need to address every issue in the divorce, any issue not resolved by the marital settlement agreement will need to be resolved by a judge, which could result in your divorce becoming contested. A complete marital settlement agreement should result in an agreement on all of the following categories of issues:
- Distribution of the marital property including real estate and personal property;
- Spousal support;
- Division of the marital debts;
- Tax consequences of the divorce; and
- If applicable, child custody, a parenting plan, visitation, division of child education costs, and child support.
The Process for Filing for an Uncontested Divorce in Oregon
Once you have decided to file for an uncontested divorce, the general flow of the process is follows:
- This step is optional, but you should begin by consulting a family law attorney who can either answer any questions that you may have, or who can help you file your divorce paperwork properly;
- The next step is for you and your spouse to acquire the needed divorce paperwork. Fortunately, for spouses unrepresented by counsel, the Oregon Judicial Branch’s website contains a series of sample forms divided by party and whether children are at issue.5
- You and your spouse should then sit down together and draft a marital settlement agreement and the filing spouse should prepare the divorce petition.
- Next, the filing spouse should file the divorce petition in the county in which the state’s residency requirement is met. After filing, the filing spouse must then serve a copy of the divorce paperwork on the non-responding spouse and return proof of service to the court.
- The parties should then file their joint stipulation to the terms of the marital settlement agreement.
- The marriage is officially terminated when the judge approves the marital settlement agreement and signs the judgment of dissolution of marriage.
Note: This article is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for your specific situation.