Divorce is a long, drawn out process. It involves countless court dates, meetings with lawyers, and an endless back and forth as the two spouses bicker over every last detail. At least that’s what many people expect. But that’s not always how it goes. In certain situations, summary dissolution may be a quick and easy way to end a marriage.
Though some couples find it useful, in order to qualify for summary dissolution in Oregon, you must fulfill a number of specific requirements. If you don’t meet the criteria—which include marriage length, whether or not there are children, the amount of shared property, and more—you’ll have to go the more traditional route. But if you do check off all the boxes, this often streamlines the process a great deal.
Requirements for Summary Dissolution
Not every marriage works out. At the same time, not every marriage ends in a heated screaming match of a divorce either. Summary dissolution presents a solution in the case of short marriages with few complications where the spouses are on the same page. The law in Oregon lays out very specific guidelines for whether or not a marriage qualifies.
Length of Marriage
This strategy is generally intended for shorter marriages. Though in this regard, Oregon differs from many other states. To qualify for summary dissolution, a marriage must be shorter than ten years. In a number of other states, California for example, the number is often five years. This opens the door to more cases, though the longer a marriage, the more likely it is other factors will flip the breaker.
The presence of children plays a big part in whether or not you can go the summary dissolution route. You and your spouse can’t have any minor children. This includes children born during the marriage, adopted children, or stepchildren from an earlier relationship. In fact, the wife can’t even be pregnant. Additionally, if you have children over the age of 18, but who still attend school, that also disqualifies you.
Property often becomes a big complication in divorce. As such, owning any land or buildings excludes you from summary dissolution. Even part ownership or minor interest cuts this off. Whether this property lies within Oregon or not, doesn’t matter. Most commonly this is a house or other shared home, but any real estate fits the bill. Mobile homes on rented land, however, to not fall into this category.
If you have limited property, shared or separate, you may qualify for summary dissolution. Again, the amount varies from one state to the next. In Oregon, the magic number is $30,000. So, if the total assets exceed that amount, you’ll have to go with another strategy. In some states, this amount excludes automobiles.
Like personal property, having too much debt also puts summary dissolution out of reach. If you and your spouse have less than $15,000 in unpaid debt, either individually or as a unit, you qualify. This includes student loans, credit card debt, medical bills, car loans, and anywhere else you owe money.
Division of Property
Since the aim of summary dissolution is to keep the situation as simple as possible, you and your spouse must be on the same page when it comes to the division of property. Know in advance how you intend to split both assets and debts. There’s no time to waste bickering back and forth about who gets the car or that box of kitschy mementos from your honeymoon. Such conflict doesn’t fit in this situation.
To keep things as streamlined as possible, in order to move forward with summary dissolution, neither party can request spousal support. Such maintenance payments often help one spouse meet financial needs during divorce. However, that’s not an option if you hope to use this strategy.
Other Divorce Actions
If you want a summary dissolution, you can’t already have other divorce actions pending, in Oregon or elsewhere. This includes divorce, annulment, or separation proceedings that have been filed but have not yet been decided. Basically, you can’t already have a divorce or other end to your marriage in the works.
By going with summary dissolution, you waive any rights to temporary orders. Obviously, there won’t be any custody orders, but you can’t ask for things like temporary spousal support or exclusive use of marital property either. There are, however, exceptions for restraining orders and others that fall under the Family Abuse Prevention Act and the Elderly and Disabled Persons Abuse Prevention Act.
Every divorce has residency requirements, and summary dissolution is no different. Like many other elements, these vary from state to state. In Oregon, either you or your spouse must be a resident—it’s not necessary for both of you to be residents—and have lived in the state for six continuous months before filing. This primarily comes up for couples who recently relocated. If you’re a longtime resident, you don’t have much to worry about.
In order to qualify for summary dissolution in Oregon, your situation must meet all of these requirements. Again, the goal is to get in and dissolve the marriage with a minimum of fuss. That’s not always how you think about divorce, is it?
If you don’t check off every last one of these boxes, you’ll have to take a more traditional route to divorce. Summary dissolution works best in short, simple marriages with few complications. And every one of these categories represents a different complication.
If you have questions about your divorce, feel free to contact Goldberg Jones at our Portland office.