Please note, these answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Oregon Family Law do not apply to EVERY situation. They will likely apply to MOST situations described. Think of it as “one size fits most” NOT “one size fits all”. This is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. As the title states, they are just overly simple answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Family Law in Oregon. To find out if or how these apply to your situation, click here to set up a consultation.


Is it better to file for divorce, annulment, or legal separation?

In Oregon, there’s not much difference between divorce, annulment or legal separation and, in most cases, you’re better off just filing for divorce. 

That having been said, the main differences are:

  • Divorce ends the marriage once the judgment is signed and entered by the court. 
  • Annulment makes it as if the marriage never happened, from a legal perspective; 
  • Legal Separation means you stay married until you convert it into a divorce; and 

In any of the 3 situations, per Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 107.095 and 107.105, the court has the power to make temporary and/or final awards regarding: attorney fees and money to fund the law suit; custody of the children; child support; spousal support; harassment of a party or the children; property (including exclusive use of the family home); and more.


How does the court figure out child support and spousal support?

In Oregon, there is a formula for calculating child support but not for spousal support.

Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 137-050-0700 to 137-050-0765 layout the rules and formulas governing child support. The Oregon Department of Justice’s website features a child support calculator (although judge’s still have some discretion to deviate).

Spousal support is the term Oregon uses for what other states sometimes call alimony. Calculating spousal support is left up to the court’s discretion taking a variety of factors into account, per Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 107.105. 


At what age does my child get to decide which parent to live with?

In Oregon, there is no “magic age” at which a minor child gets to decide which parent he or she lives with.

Only when a child turns 18 and the court no longer has authority over him or her does the child get to decide which parent to live with. That having been said, there are ways in which a child can have some input into the process of deciding custody and parenting time (e.g. if a custody and parenting time evaluation is ordered or if an attorney for the child is appointed). In Oregon, children are permitted to testify at divorce and custody proceedings but most Oregon family law judges say that, barring some exceptional circumstances, they strongly dislike it when a parent calls a child to testify.


After how many years of living together is a common law marriage created in Oregon?

Oregon does not recognize common law marriage.

Although Oregon courts do not recognize common law marriages, Oregon courts can recognize the existence of a domestic partnership. If the court finds a domestic partnership existed between a couple, it has the authority to make certain financial and property awards but NOT all the same awards as if the parties were married.


What’s the difference between a divorce and a dissolution of marriage?

Nothing, really.

In Oregon courts, a divorce is referred to as a dissolution of marriage because the court is dissolving the legal entity that is the marriage. So, basically, “divorce” is the layperson’s term and “dissolution of marriage” is the legal term. Whether you refer to it as a divorce or a dissolution of marriage, your lawyer and the court will still know what you’re talking about.


Do I still have to pay child support even if my ex won’t let me see my kids?


In Oregon, your court-ordered obligation to pay child support does not change just because your ex isn’t following the court-ordered parenting plan. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can bring an enforcement action through the courts to enforce your parenting time rights. The process may take awhile but the court can order remedies such as make up parenting time and ordering your misbehaving ex to pay your attorney fees. Don’t stop paying child support in the meantime! As you’ve probably told your kids: two wrongs don’t make a right.


Do I still have to let my ex see the kids even if he/she/they isn’t paying child support?


In Oregon, the court-ordered parenting time schedule does not change just because your ex isn’t paying court-ordered child support. If your ex is not paying court-ordered child support, you have legal remedies available to collect the past due child support. Don’t withhold your ex’s parenting time in the meantime! As stated in the answer to #6 above: two wrongs don’t make a right, especially when it comes to child support and parenting time in Oregon Family Law cases.

Tapestry Family Law Blog

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.

Kofi Annan

The articles in this blog are intended to help educate you on some common issues people in Oregon face during divorces, custody disputes, and other family law matters.

The information provided is general and is not intended to be legal advice for any specific case. Reading these articles is not a substitute for consulting with a family law attorney.

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