Oregon Admininstrative Rules for Divorce & Assets

by Beverly Bird

Oregon offers a few options for divorce, which is called a "dissolution of marriage" in this state. Oregon is a pure no-fault state; you do not have the option to use fault grounds for divorce. Spouses who own no real estate and less than $30,000 in personal property qualify for a simpler divorce known as a "summary dissolution." If you own more than that, you can either file a co-petition for dissolution with your spouse, or you can file a regular petition for dissolution to begin the divorce process.

Starting Your Divorce

Oregon requires that you file several documents with your petition or co-petition, including a confidential information form and a notice acknowledging that you've filed it. You'll also need a certificate of residency. If you and your spouse don't file a joint petition together, you must serve him with a copy of your petition, and he then has 30 days to respond.

Automatic Restraining Order

Your petition for dissolution acts as an automatic restraining order in Oregon. After you've filed it with the court, neither you nor your spouse may sell or liquidate any assets. You can't give them away, or spend excessive amounts of money until the divorce is final. The restraints also prevent either of you from making any changes to insurance policies. Oregon court rules allow either you or your spouse to file a motion with the court, asking a judge to set aside the restraints or to change their terms to suit your own personal situation.

Discovery Procedures

The Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure govern divorce discovery procedures. Discovery involves the exchange of information and documentation with your spouse so you can determine the value and extent of all your assets. Acceptable methods of discovery in Oregon include requests for documents or the release of certain information. They also include requests for admissions and depositions. Requests for admissions involve a series of statements that a spouse must admit or deny under oath. Depositions are oral questions asked under oath. Subpoenas can be issued to third parties to request documentation neither you or your spouse have in your possession. If either of you refuses to provide discovery documents or answers, the other can file a motion with the court to compel or force cooperation. Oregon is also somewhat unique in that if either spouse hides assets during discovery, the injured spouse can reopen the divorce case years later when and if the assets are discovered.

Mediation Requirement

Oregon's court rules don't mandate mediation. However, this doesn't mean the court won't order you and your spouse to attend if a judge believes you can resolve your differences regarding property distribution with help from a third party. Some Oregon counties offer mediation services through the court, free of charge. If you do reach an agreement, the mediator will send the terms to you in written form. You or your attorneys can then prepare a stipulated general judgment of dissolution of marriage to end your union.

Trial

If you don't reach an agreement regarding assets, either through mediation or on your own, the court will schedule your case for trial. Judges, not juries, hear Oregon divorce trials. The judge will make a decision regarding division of your property, based on your discovery and on testimony, and the court will issue a final judgment. Administrative rules regarding trials vary somewhat from county to county. Some courts may require that you meet with the judge ahead of time to identify the issues that you and your spouse can't agree on, and to determine what you'll be disputing at trial.