Starting A Divorce

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

    In order to get divorced in Oregon, one or both spouses must have lived in Oregon for at least six months.

    If neither spouse has lived in Oregon that long, the processes can start with a legal separation, and later be converted to a divorce after one spouse has lived here for at least six months.  The conversion process is simple and easy, and should not cause new problems.

    Of course, if the other spouse and the assets are in another state, getting jurisdiction to divide the assets may be somewhat troublesome, but if there are few assets to divide, or if both spouses (and the assets) have recently moved to Oregon, and the lack of six months residence is the only problem, issues of court jurisdiction over the assets should not cause significant difficulties.

    The biggest problem some people face is providing the information that the law requires be given to the court or to the other side.

    Any time that spousal support (alimony) or child support is an issue, a Uniform Support Declaration must be filed by both spouses.  These must include an accurate statement of all income that the person filing receives in a year.  This includes interest income, income from investments, trust disbursements, expected bonuses from employment, and the like.

    Some people are reluctant to provide all of this information, but it is required by law.  It is used by the court in setting both spousal support or alimony, and child support.

    The Uniform Support Declaration is signed under penalty of perjury.  A person cannot omit information called for by this form without committing perjury, so properly completing the form is very important.  

    If the other side does not respond to the divorce (i.e. does not file a response in court), of course there will be no Uniform Support Declaration from that party.  In that circumstance there are a variety of ways that the person filing for divorce and/or the courts may be able to arrive at income figures for the other side.

    In addition to the Uniform Support Declaration, Oregon law (ORS 107.089) also requires each side in a divorce to give information about assets and income to the other side.  If a person does not give information about an asset that is required by law to the other side, and the other person finds out about it after the divorce is final, the other person can re-open the case and ask the court to give up to 100 percent of the hidden/non-disclosed asset to the person from whom it was hidden.  This can include assets which the other person might not have had a right to in the initial divorce if the required information had been exchanged, if the court feels that this is appropriate.

    It is generally not difficult to get the required information.  Even if a person does not have full bank records for a year (as required), for example, the bank will usually be able to print out copies of statements for the past year at little or no expense.