Legal Separation VS Divorce: Differences in Oregon

Spouses are thinking about separation in Oregon

Legal separation and divorce in Oregon are two distinct legal processes. A legal separation allows couples to live apart while remaining legally married. It addresses issues such as child custody, support, and property division, similar to a divorce. However, it does not terminate the marital status. Divorce, on the other hand, completely ends the marriage, freeing both parties to remarry. The decision between legal separation and divorce depends on individual circumstances and preferences.

What is a Legal Separation in Oregon?

A legal separation is a court procedure that enables spouses to live apart while remaining married. Reasons for legal separation can be irreconcilable differences between parties. If you need space and time apart from your spouse and would like to have court orders on child custody, visitation, and alimony, consider legal separation. It is a reasonable choice if, for some reason, you do not want to end your marriage completely and go through a divorce.  

What is a Divorce?

A divorce is a legal process that officially ends a marriage. In Oregon, separation before divorce is not mandatory like in some other states, so spouses are not required to live apart for a certain amount of time before the court can dissolve their marriage. When getting a divorce in Oregon, spouses should decide on the division of property, spousal support, and other divorce-related issues.

What Is the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?

Woman don't know what the differences between separation and divorce in Oregon
While divorce legally terminates a marriage, separation in Oregon allows spouses to live apart while still legally married.

The main difference between divorced and separated spouses is that a divorced couple gets a complete dissolution of their marriage, with all legal and financial issues resolved. After the divorce is granted, they can marry another person if they wish. In legal separation, though parties live apart, they remain married and cannot register a new marriage.

The choice between legal separation vs. divorce depends on the individual circumstances and goals of a couple. Divorce may not be an option for some spouses due to religious reasons or personal beliefs.

As for expenses, the legal separation cost can be similar to that of divorce and vary depending on:

  • the case complexity,
  • whether spouses can agree on key issues,
  • whether they hire an attorney,
  • if there are minor children involved, etc.

How to Legally Separate from Spouse

To legally separate from your spouse, you must file a petition with the local court, notify your spouse about a case started if you do not file together, try to agree on separation-related issues, and then wait for a court decision.  

The process of separation in Oregon is similar to divorce. If spouses are cooperative, they can draw up a separation agreement in Oregon with arrangements guiding their future relationship. If the judge finds the agreements made by a couple reasonable or after deciding on contested issues, they will sign a Judgement, meaning legal separation is officially granted.

Alternatives to Legal Separation in Oregon

If you and your spouse experience difficulties in your marriage, you may consider counseling or family therapy before deciding on separation.

There is also a so-called trial separation when spouses start living apart without any court orders. It may not be possible if there are any disagreements between parties. Also, it is better to check with a family law professional about the consequences this action may have.

The most common alternative to legal separation is a divorce if a couple has made a final decision to end their marriage.

Commonly Asked Questions

Woman wants to ask question about separation in Oregon
Common queries surrounding separation in Oregon often pertain to legal rights, financial responsibilities, and the potential reconciliation process.

What are the benefits of a legal separation?

Legal separation allows spouses to maintain their marital status, as some couples have personal, religious, or cultural reasons to remain legally married while living apart. During separation, spouses can try to solve their family problems without escalating them or make a final decision to divorce. Spouses can also continue to receive certain marital benefits, such as health insurance, that may be lost during a divorce.

What are the disadvantages of a legal separation?

Being legally separated, spouses are forbidden to start new marital relationships. In addition, if spouses decide to end a marriage completely after being separated for 2 years or more, they will likely need to initiate a new court process, cover all the fees once again, and spend much time on marriage dissolution.

Does legal separation protect me financially?

Legal separation in Oregon can provide financial protection. It allows spouses to make a legally binding agreement on sharing property, assets, and debts. Besides, spouses usually do not lose benefits they had in a marriage, like insurance or retirement benefits.

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