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Understanding Divorce Law in Portland

In the best situations, spouses can come to agreement on the many issues surrounding their Portland divorce (also known as dissolution of marriage).  When this is not possible, Oregon divorce law has detailed provisions for virtually every possible issue. 

The Portland divorce attorneys at Gearing, Rackner and Engle, LLP have the detailed understanding of the law that is critical to ensuring a successful outcome.  In many case, it is possible to choose a type of divorce that leaves many or all of the decisions in the hands of the spouses.  But, it is helpful for anyone considering divorce to understand how the law can affect each case.

Grounds for divorce

Oregon is a no-fault divorce state.  This means that the divorce laws in Portland generally allow only grounds of irreconcilable differences—an unlimited breakdown of the marriage—for couples filing for dissolution of their marriages.

In a no-fault divorce, the court does not permit the presentation of evidence of fault, and it does not consider any acts of misconduct by either spouse when determining how property should be divided or whether spousal support should be provided.  One exception to this rule is when spousal misconduct is likely to affect the wellbeing of the children.

Terms of divorce

When couples are unable to reach agreement on the terms of their divorce, Portland divorce law governs decisions made by the judge.  Divorce terms generally involve the following decisions:

  • Division of property:  The overall objective of the court is to provide for an equitable division of property between both spouses.  But many issues must be factored into this decision, including who has custody of the children, identifying the property that each spouse owned prior to the marriage, premarital agreements, and countless additional issues, not the least of which includes ownership of debt.
  • Parenting:  When minor children are involved, the court looks at every possible issue to make decisions regarding custody, visitation, and child support.  In fact, to protect the safety of the children, the court can institute certain provisions after the commencement of suit and before judgment has been reached.  State policy is to provide children regular contact with both parents, encourage parents to share the responsibilities, and grant both parents and the courts discretion in developing a parenting plan.  But, the first priority under the Portland divorce laws is to ensure that the children are safe and supported financially.  This is one case where a spouse is permitted to present evidence of fault—when the past actions of one spouse indicate the possibility any type of danger to the children, this evidence is used to limit or eliminate the ability of a spouse to have contact with the children.
  • Spousal support:  The court may require spousal support for a defined period of time based on many factors, including (but not limited to) the duration of the marriage, the ability and skills needed for each spouse to earn a living, the financial needs and resources of each spouse, and tax consequences.

Contact our premier law firm for the support you need

The divorce attorneys at Gearing, Rackner and Engle, LLP have a detailed understanding of the law.  We can unravel the many complexities of our client issues to protect their interests during this complicated process.  If you are considering divorce in Oregon or Washington, contact us online, or call us at 503.222.9116.


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