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How Spousal Support Works in Oregon

A brief overview of how to handle spousal support negotiations in Oregon and what steps you can take to ensure you obtain a fair and favorable outcome.

As you start to explore your divorce options in the greater Portland area, it is natural to feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless decisions you must make. Even divorces in which the spouses are on amicable terms can take time and require a large amount of attention and care to ensure the process moves smoothly and the end-result is complete and accurate. Just as every marriage is unique, no two divorces are the same. While you and your spouse will address common issues like dividing up marital assets, navigating child custody arrangements (if applicable), and establishing spousal support, the terms of your divorce judgment should address your specific needs and goals. Below is a brief overview of how to handle spousal support negotiations in Oregon and what steps you can take to ensure you obtain a fair and favorable outcome.

How Oregon Defines Spousal Support

Like most states, Oregon recognizes that some divorcing couples will face unequal financial realities once the process finalizes. Spousal support, also known as alimony, ensures that both parties have access to sufficient financial resources to help them adjust to the next phase of their lives. Usually, a judge will order the higher-earning spouse to make monthly payments to the lesser-earning spouse. In some cases, the judge may find that a one-time spousal support payment is appropriate. The details of the spousal support order will depend on several factors, so discuss your situation with an experienced Portland divorce attorney for more customized legal guidance.

Types of Spousal Support Orders in Oregon

There are three main types of spousal support an Oregon judge can order. When most people hear the term “alimony,” they picture monthly payments. This type of spousal support is called spousal maintenance, in which the judge compels one spouse to make monthly payments to ensure the other spouse continues to enjoy a standard of living similar to what they had during the marriage. Spousal maintenance may continue until a specific date or indefinitely. Transitional support usually applies when one spouse requires educational or technical training to re-enter the job market. A judge may order the higher-earning spouse to pay transitional support to the other spouse while they attend classes or search for employment, and the support typically ends once that spouse has completed the education or training or found a new job. The third type of spousal support, compensatory support, requires one spouse to repay the other for a significant financial or other contribution to the education, career, or earning capacity of the other spouse. Compensatory support is usually paid in a lump sum.

Factors That Influence Spousal Support

It is natural to want to know exactly how much the judge may order be paid in spousal support. However, there is no universal formula for calculating spousal support; instead, the judge considers several factors when establishing a spousal support order. For instance, the court will look at each spouse’s income, earning capacity, and expenses. Other relevant factors will include the age and health of the parties, how long the marriage lasted, the standard of living enjoyed by the spouses during the marriage, or any long-term financial needs of the spouses. If you are concerned about your potential spousal support obligations, reach out to a trusted divorce lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your goals.

Retirement Savings and Divorce in Oregon

Many divorcing couples have questions about how this process will impact their retirement plans. In Oregon, retirement savings accrued during a marriage are considered marital assets, so they are subject to division during a divorce proceeding. The judge will take all financial aspects of both spouses into account when determining a fair and equitable distribution of assets. If either spouse worked for a government entity or was a member of a union at any time, there may be special implications for navigating the division of assets and determining spousal support payments. It is always important to discuss your specific situation with a knowledgeable divorce attorney for a more accurate assessment of what your divorce may entail.

Modifying Spousal Support

When a spousal support order is finalized, it can feel permanent. However, Oregon courts recognize that circumstances may change that render an individual unable to fulfill their spousal support obligations. If you have experienced a sudden change in your financial situation (e.g., losing a job), you may pursue a modification to the existing spousal support order. Enlisting the guidance of an understanding divorce attorney is the best way of ensuring you can navigate this process with greater clarity and confidence.

Learn More About the Divorce Process Today

The divorce process is almost always emotionally challenging and draining, as there are so many decisions to make to ensure you can move forward with a solid foundation. However, it is important to recognize that you do not have to go through this process alone. A dedicated Portland divorce attorney can answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you move through each step of the process with confidence.


Contact Kuzma Law, LLC, today at (503) 406-1787 to discuss your divorce goals with a trusted and friendly Portland attorney.