The Steps to Divorce in Oregon: How Long Can It Take?

In Oregon, a divorce starts with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. In the petition, you’ll list out your specific requests like alimony, child support, and other assets. The first person to file the petition and initial documents is known as the “petitioner”. The other party receiving the petition and initial documents is the “respondent”.

Once the petition has been filed and a filing fee has been paid, the documents must be served on the respondent. The individual who is serving the paperwork must be over 18 years of age and not a party in the divorce nor the attorney handling your case. In simple terms, a divorce is a lawsuit and the other spouse must be notified of the petition. Whoever serves the petition will need to sign an Affidavit of Service that swears under oath that they delivered the petition to the respondent on a certain date and time. The affidavit is then filed with the court and kept on record as proof that the respondent is aware of the pending divorce.

At this point in time, the respondent has 30 days to file what is known as an “Answer”. This is simply a reply to the petition where the respondent can agree or disagree to the requests as well as acknowledge allegations made in the petition. The respondent may also include counterclaims in their response. This will go on record and any items that are disagreed upon will require further negotiation through mediation or court proceedings. It should be noted that meditation is always the most preferable route as it will help both spouses avoid court while divorcing.

The next step is known as an exchange of discovery which is the process of determining both spouse’s total assets, debts, and belongings. This could include things like a house appraisal or hiring expert witnesses. This stage of the divorce does have the potential to take a considerably long time if both spouses refuse to cooperate.

Once the discovery stage has concluded, settlement discussions may begin. Mediation can be useful in this stage if couples are unable to come to an agreement. If settlement cannot be reached, a trial will be scheduled where a judge will hear both sides and decide. This is not always the most ideal scenario as the judge may not make favorable decisions. For example, instead of awarding property to one spouse, the judge may order it to be sold and have its value split fairly.

In court, very intimate areas of your life may be decided on by a judge. It is always recommended that couples try to attend mediation to help avoid court while divorcing.

Once either settlement has been reached or court has concluded, the presiding judge will sign a General Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage that will officially and legally dissolve the marriage.

However, this does not always conclude the process. Additional court orders are often needed to divide retirement accounts. Estate planning and other financial arrangements may also need to be made in light of the divorce.

Determining the Length of a Divorce

Every case is unique, so it can be difficult to determine how long your divorce may take. In Oregon, if both parties wish to divorce amicably and they have already settled their issues privately, then it’s not uncommon for a divorce to finalize within a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

However, couples that argue over property, assets, and child custody can expect a significantly longer and more expensive divorce. Divorces can easily take over a year to resolve and couples in these cases are often left with bitterness long after the divorce has concluded. A divorce of this length typically doesn’t just end at the divorce. These kinds of divorces often lead to further motions being filed, especially if children are involved.

If you want to get a fast divorce without going to court, then talking things out with your spouse through mediation is one of the best options available.