Taking a legal recourse to end a relationship can be a very daunting task but the law tries to make it easier for you to deal with your situation with the most amount of dignity possible. Most states offer more than one way for you to put an end to the marriage that you are in. Two popular methods in this regard are divorce and legal separation. While a number of factors overlap in both these options, these are very different from each other in terms of basics.
While divorce is a permanent end to your marriage, many people choose to opt for legal separation instead, as if on a trial basis. The state of Oregon allows you to live separately for a period of one year after drawing up an agreement that divides important factors like custody of children, support and so on. This option is popular amongst people for many reasons. Some religions prohibit divorce, which forces people to turn to legal separation instead. In other cases, the couples may want to continue benefit from a health insurance policy or work out their taxes in a way that requires them to be legally married.
As a resident of Oregon, if you are struggling with how to file for legal separation, we have devised an explanatory guide to make things easier. Keep reading to learn more!
Legal Separation vs Divorce
Legal separation and divorce are two distinct options in front of you if you are looking to end your marriage. First, let’s look at what a legal separation is. It is a court order that states that you and your spouse are legally married but live separately because of irreconcilable differences. In order to go through with this, you will be required to file a petition for legal separation at the local county court and get a judgement to be passed. After a year of being legally separated, if you feel that reconciliation is still out of the picture, you can follow the right steps to convert a legal separation proceeding into a divorce.
A divorce is the formal ending of a marriage. Usually referred to as the dissolution of a marriage, a divorce is a court order that says that you and your spouse are not married to each other anymore. While many states do not accept no-fault divorces – where no specific allegation is levied – Oregon is a no-fault divorce state. This means that irreconcilable differences are enough for you to file for a divorce. There are, however, some prerequisites that need to be fulfilled before you file a petition for divorce. For example, you or your spouse needs to be living in the state of Oregon for at least 6 months before you file the petition. Many couples choose to go for a legal separation at this stage if they do not fulfill the residency clause for divorce.
Requirements and Grounds for Legal Separation
All states have different requirements and grounds for legal separation. The state of Oregon is quite relaxed in terms of these requirements, especially when compared with a number of other states that require a specific time period of residency before filing. If you or your spouse is a current resident of Oregon, you are eligible for filing a petition for legal separation in the state. You do not have to live in the state for a particular period of time to be eligible.
Similarly, many states require the couple to live separately for a specific period of time – usually about two months – before they can file for legal separation or divorce. In Oregon, such restrictions exist for divorce but not for legal separation.
Finally, you can choose to separate from your partner on grounds of irreconcilable differences. You do not need to justify why you are opting for a legal separation and not a divorce either.
Procedure for Legal Separation in Oregon
Each state has a process that needs to be followed in order to be considered legally separated. The process for the state of Oregon is mentioned below in a step-by-step format to make it easier for you.
Step One: Collect All Required Material
- The first step of the process is visiting the county clerk’s office and procuring the legal separation packet from the courthouse. This packet will include all the forms you need to file a petition for legal separation.
- If you have children, opt for the “Legal Separation With Children” packet. Otherwise, pick the “Petition for Separation Without Children” packet.
Step Two: Put Together a Separation Agreement
- Once you have all the forms with you, it is important that you enlist the help of an attorney, who will be able to walk you through the technicalities in accordance with the Oregon law.
- The rights that you have are very similar to cases of divorce so start putting together a proposal that looks into the division of assets and debts, along with factors like custody of children, visitation and support.
- Get your spouse on the same table so that both sides can negotiate the terms of the separation. If you are unable to reach an agreement, try involving a neutral third party.
Step Three: File the Petition
- Once the separation agreement is in place, you will have to get it signed and notarized by a licensed public
- Both parties should sign the agreement in each other’s presence.
- Fill all forms under the legal separation category and file them with the right court.
- Make three copies so that even when the original goes to the court, you and your spouse have one copy each.
- Attach the separation agreement with the petition and pay the filing fee at the courthouse.
- The clerk will assign you a date and you are required to be present in the courthouse on that date. The final order will be issued them
Step Four: Looking Forward
- The legal separation is active for a period of one year, after which you will have to decide whether you want to stay with your spouse or file for divorce. Either party can file for divorce at this point.
Legal Separation Costs
The cost for legal separation also differs from state to state. The first part of this cost is the filing fee that was mentioned before under the procedure earlier in this article. It usually ranges between $150-$250 for most states, including Oregon. Keep in mind that the filing fee for a petition for legal separation is usually the same as – or very similar to – the filing fee for a petition for divorce.
In addition to this, you should also be prepared to pay for your legal fees. While the importance of this point will be discussed later, getting a lawyer on board will simplify your life. However, if the proceedings are long drawn and extend over a period of time because of unresolved differences between the spouses, the lawyer fee can start to really add up.
- We cannot emphasize the importance of good legal assistance enough. As you start of the process of getting a legal separation, you may feel like you will be able to handle the intricacies involved in legal procedures. Getting a lawyer on board will not just make your life easier in terms of filing paperwork and putting together documentation, it will also allow you to make better decisions in the process.
- If you want to take some time off from the relationship but don’t want to file for a divorce, a legal separation can work in a manner similar to a trial divorce. You will get enough time – usually up to a year – to sort out your differences and figure out if you are ready to get back with each other. If that isn’t the case, you can file for divorce.
- Make sure that you work hard towards drawing up a comprehensive separation agreement. This binding document will ensure that you are able to sort out issues like custody of your children (if any), financial support or division of your property or assets. If you do go in for a divorce after a year of legal separation, you can use this document as a basis to start negotiating again.
- Finally, you need to remember that a legal separation is not the end of your marriage. Your spouse is still married to you under the law. This means neither of you can get remarried during this period. A divorce is the only way if you wish to remarry.
In the state of Oregon, you can only be legally separated from you spouse for a period of 12 months. Once this period of time lapses, you are required to decide whether or not you are ready to reconcile with each other. In case you don’t want to stay with your partner any longer, you can file for divorce. While we cannot file a petition on your behalf, we have used this platform to give you all the information that you will need to find yourself in a better position to deal with the complex process of a legal separation.