Oregon Divorce Guide

Legal Separation

A judgment of separation may be Separationissued when irreconcilable differences between the parties have caused the temporary or unlimited breakdown of the marriage.  The main difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that spouses are still married after a legal separation. The court will determine for what length of time a separation will survive (it can be unlimited), after which the judgment will have no further effect. The order of separation can be extended or terminated (vacated) by a request to the court.

Parties opt for legal separation when they want one spouse to remain on the other spouse’s insurance policy, or the parties have a moral objection to divorce, neither party has established residency (lived in Oregon for 6 months or more, or one party wishes to remain on the health insurance of the other.

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Oregon is a no-fault state, which means that a judgment of legal separation will be granted even if one party does not wish to be legally separated. A separation would continue your married status and protect your legal, financial, social or religious interests. It can be granted for a limited or unlimited period of time. A separation in Oregon requires the parties to petition the court with the same process as a dissolution (petition, service, etc.). It is a court order that details who gets the children, who pays support for the children and how much, whether or not spousal support (alimony) is ordered, and who gets what marital property and debt.

You might want a legal separation if your religious beliefs prohibit divorce, if you or your spouse have not lived in Oregon long enough to file for divorce, or if one of you needs to be covered by the other’s medical insurance. A legal separation costs about the same as a divorce. Filing for a separation does not prevent a divorce from being filed, however. If you are interested in knowing how to file, you should know that it is essentially the same process and forms that filing for dissolution requires, except that you are not asking the court to end the marriage; just end the relationship in all ways including financially. Your local Clerk of Courts can guide you if needed.

Converting your judgment of separation into a judgment of dissolution (divorce)

If within 2 years from the granting of the separation, one of you makes a motion to the court to convert the legal separation into a dissolution, and after a notice is served on the other party no less than 30 days before a hearing, the court may make the conversion. The other party may agree to the conversion in writing, which will not make necessary the hearing, and the judge will decree a dissolution. The conversion does not set aside any provisions of the legal separation.

The judge can set a definite term for the separation, and the separation can expire unless one of the parties make a motion to continue it.

The main difference between dissolution of marriage and legal separation proceedings is that after a judgment of separation the parties remain married for all purposes including eligibility for health insurance. A legal separation may be converted to a divorce anytime before the expiration of two years from the entry of a judgment of legal separation with no extra filing fee. A legal separation may be converted to a divorce later than two years after the judgment of legal separation but you will have to pay another court filing fee.

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[Oregon Statutes – Volume 2 – Sections: 107.025, 107.106, 107.465, 107.820]

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