Unfortunately, it happens, but love doesn’t always last. When you got married, you probably meant every word of “’til death do us part.” However, it doesn’t always work out like that. People grow apart for countless reasons. But when your spouse says she doesn’t love you anymore, what do you next?
That’s a difficult thing to hear. It comes with all manner of psychological and emotional ramifications. That, however, is not our area of expertise. What we can help with is dealing with what comes next from a legal perspective.
How people react to hearing their spouse doesn’t love you anymore varies. No two situations are the same and no two people respond the same way. Perhaps this revelation is a shock and comes out of the blue, but perhaps not. Maybe this has built over time and you feel similarly. Some couples choose to remain married and living together—often for kids or financial reasons—while others can’t end a relationship fast enough.
You must choose how to deal with learning your spouse doesn’t love you anymore on your own. One path many take in this situation is divorce. That falls right in our wheelhouse. But once you decide on divorce, what next?
Fill Out the Divorce Forms: Motives behind divorce are usually complicated and often painful. It may involve a tangled spider-web of lies and deceit that span years. Then again, maybe the reasons are as simple as your spouse doesn’t love you anymore. The first step towards divorce, however, is relatively simple: all you have to do is fill out the divorce forms.
The Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage lays out all the pertinent information about the case. This includes contact information, as well as spousal support requests and how you want shared assets divided. If you have children, you must fill out a different form that requests custody, child support, visitation, and more. Since Oregon is a no-fault divorce state, there’s no need to assign blame to one spouse or the other.
File the Divorce Forms: Again, on a practical level, the next step is relatively simple. Once you fill out the proper forms, you submit them to the appropriate court. You must meet residency requirements to file for divorce in Oregon.
This requires you to have lived in Oregon for at least six months. If you married in the state and your spouse still lives there, you can also file in Oregon. For counties, you have two options. First, you can submit the forms in the county where you live. Second, if you and your spouse reside in different counties, you can file where your soon-to-be-ex lives.
Serve the Divorce Papers: For the next step, you need to let your spouse know that you intend to end your marriage by serving the divorce papers. This essentially means you present your spouse with a copy of the Petition. If your spouse doesn’t agree to all the requests, she must file a Response to the Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage. This lists any objections and counter requests. Again, there’s also a different form for cases involving children.
Serving your spouse isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds. You can’t just walk up and deliver the forms yourself. It’s most common to hire an outside third party, like a process server, to accomplish this. Though in Oregon, you can skip this step by filing as co-petitioners, or if your spouse signs an Acceptance of Service form, which confirms she received the papers.
Disclose Finances: Both spouses must also disclose their finances by turning over an all-inclusive list of assets and debts. Oregon practices equitable distribution when it comes to the division of property. This means the state views property acquired during a marriage as belonging to one spouse or the other.
There’s no set-in-stone formula for dividing assets, but the courts take many factors into account. Age, level of need, health, future earning potential, and other variables all play a part. In the end, the overriding aims are to make sure both spouses enjoy a lifestyle similar to that which they experienced during the marriage and that assets and debts are split in a fair and equitable way.
Sign and File: Once you and your spouse hash out all of the terms, all that remains is to sign and file the final documents. Which is exactly what it sounds like. You have forms to fill out and submit regarding child custody, child support, spousal support, visitation, the division of property, and any other specifics of your case.
Once you reach the final agreement, you submit the paperwork to the court. A judge examines the divorce agreement to make sure it’s all in order and that it doesn’t put either party in an unfair or biased position. And if everything passes muster, the judge signs off, granting you your divorce.
Where Divorce Gets Messy
This all sounds relatively simple and straightforward. And on paper, it is. It’s between the serving of divorce papers and the signing of the final documents where the process often becomes messy.
It can be difficult to hear your spouse doesn’t love you, but when it comes to uncontested divorces, things can proceed with relative ease. In straightforward cases, where spouses agree on any issues, divorce often progresses smoothly. Sometimes it involves little more than filling out forms and paying the relevant fees. This is most common in shorter marriages without children or much shared property.
It’s when you and your spouse disagree on key points where complications arise. And the more you have to deal with, the more complex and tangled divorce becomes. If you have kids, a great deal of wealth or debt, or a long-term marriage, these and other factors can muddy the waters.
If you can’t agree on a parenting plan, child or spousal support, the division of property, and other obstacles, it can lead to friction. Couples often have to go through mediation or arbitration to hammer out a divorce agreement. If other strategies don’t work, you may ultimately go to trial.
When you think of divorce, you probably think of something similar to this last situation. A more complicated case usually means more time, money, and headaches for everyone. While that’s often the situation, it doesn’t have to be.
At a basic level, divorce is a relatively simple proposition, but things can get messy in a hurry. If you envision complication, it may be in your best interest to retain a divorce attorney, especially if your spouse has one. An experienced professional can guide you through the process.