When you file for divorce, you will complete a divorce petition. The petition asks for personal information about both you and your spouse, including your home address. In addition, you must include the terms of your divorce in the petition. For example, you will decide how to divide the marital property and child custody arrangements. Whether you and your spouse agree about the terms of your divorce will determine what occurs after you file for divorce.
In Oregon, the spouse who files the divorce petition is known as the petitioner; the other spouse is the respondent. The divorce petition provides information to the court about what you are asking for in the divorce. For example, you can request spousal support or child custody in the petition. You and your spouse can file as co-petitioners, if you agree on the terms of the divorce, including how to divide the marital property and child custody. You file the divorce petition at your local county courthouse.
After you file for divorce, you must provide your spouse with notice of the case, which you do by serving a copy of the filed documents on your spouse. After your spouse receives service, your spouse has 30 days to respond to the divorce petition by filing an answer with the court. The answer can agree with all terms in the petition, or the answer can include a request for new terms. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, the court will schedule a hearing to decide these contested issues for you.
If you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce, the divorce is an uncontested divorce, which will become final faster than a contested divorce. A contested divorce requires that spouses attend a hearing so the court may determine the terms of the divorce. As of January 2012, no waiting period exists before the court will grant the final judgment. The spouses must present their agreement to the judge, who will ensure all issues have been addressed before he renders the divorce final. While it is not necessary for both spouses to attend, you may wish to attend so you can confirm the judge has accepted your agreement and finalized the divorce.
If your spouse fails to file an answer with the court within 90 days and refuses to sign the divorce paperwork, you may request that the court enter a default divorce. In a default proceeding, because your spouse has not followed the appropriate legal steps and made an appearance in the case, the judge will likely award you the relief you requested. Contact the court clerk to determine how to request a default divorce, as each county may handle the request differently.