When you read about divorce, you often see “irreconcilable differences” listed as the root cause of the separation. The reason you hear this phrase so frequently is that the term comes from the modern “no-fault” divorce code.
What Is No Fault Divorce?
Just like it sounds, no-fault divorce means that, legally speaking, neither party shoulders the blame for the end of a marriage. No one has to prove the other was in the wrong. In short, in order to divorce, the law only requires that one of you wants out of the marriage.
No-Fault Divorce in the U.S.
The first no-fault statute in the U.S. was passed in California in 1969. Over the following 50 years, all 50 states either removed fault-based divorce from their code or added a no-fault “irreconcilable differences” clause to their code.
Therefore, in every state, you have the option to choose a no-fault divorce. However, in a few states, fault-based divorce remains on the table. In these jurisdictions, it’s much more challenging to obtain a no-fault divorce if one party contests the divorce.
No-Fault Divorce in Oregon
So, when asking, is Oregon a no-fault divorce state, the answer is: Yes.
The current statute in Oregon provides that a divorce may be rendered when:
“[I]rreconcilable differences between the parties have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.”
Furthermore, Oregon removed all fault-based divorce standards.
This means the courts will not consider evidence of acts of misconduct in divorce proceedings. This can and does still pop up in child custody matters if you show the relevance of such evidence.
Similarly, when dividing property between spouses, the courts no longer consider evidence of misconduct or fault. Instead, any assets or debts acquired during your marriage are divided under the equitable distribution model the state employs.
Related Reading: How Can Adultery Affect a No-Fault Divorce?
Traditional fault-based grounds for divorce are very similar to breach of contract actions. The most common grounds for divorce included:
- Sexual deviance.
- Mental illness.
- Abandonment or desertion.
- Criminal conviction.
- Substance abuse.
Arguments For No-Fault Divorce
Proponents of no-fault divorces argue that fault-based divorces are an anachronistic legal concept. They take the stance that those laws no longer reflect the reality of marriages in modern-day America.
Additionally, they feel removing fault from divorce proceedings also removes much of the anger, bitterness, and acrimony that attends a divorce where one party must show the other was to blame.
Arguments Against No-Fault Divorce
Opponents of no-fault divorces cite the shift as the cause of the rising divorce rate, an increase in poverty for women, and a decrease in society’s value of marriage as a social pillar.
Before the passage of the no-fault code, divorce was only allowed when the parties could demonstrate fault or blame in the marriage, such as abuse, adultery, or infertility. However, over the past 50 years, the laws across the country shifted from fault-based to no-fault divorces.
Related Reading: How Long Does Divorce Take in Oregon?