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Oregon Legal Separation
Legal Separation in Oregon

Legal separation in Oregon establishes a binding agreement between married people regarding custody, child and spousal support, and division of property. The legal separation must either be by agreement of the spouses, or the court decides the separation is warranted because it "preserves or protects the legal, financial, social or religious interests" of the parties.

The spouses may enter a separation agreement to live apart for at least one year or indefinitely. In a legal separation the spouses maintain insurance coverage, tax status and other marital benefits, and they remain legally married. A legal separation works as an interim solution for couples unable to meet Oregon's six-month residency requirement for divorce.

When a married couple wishes to separate but not divorce, they may file for legal separation that allows for the couple to live separate lives while still being married. There are several benefits to being legally separated rather than divorced, including taxes and health insurance coverage. It can also be an alternative when religious beliefs prevent divorce. Some couples prefer to file for legal separation rather than divorce because they hope for reconciliation.

The Separation Agreement describes the terms and conditions of child custody, alimony, child support, child visitation, division of property, and division of debts. The agreement is temporary and can be dismissed or modified. Unlike a divorce, legal separation can be temporary. Although the terms of a legal separation can be temporary, there are several terms that may become permanent within the separation such as the division of real property, personal property, debts, credits, pension plans, and retirement plans.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.


The petition includes the names of the parties, the names and birth dates of any minor children, date of the marriage and separation and a statement regarding residency requirements. It states the relief the petitioner seeks, which may include custody of children, child support, division of assets and debts, rights to any marital property and anything desired in the separation. A summons served on the spouse notifies him or her of the action. The papers are filed in the county where one of he spouses lives.


Oregon permits legal separations (a separation from bed and board) because of irreconcilable differences between the spouses that have caused a temporary or permanent breakdown of the marriage.


There is no waiting period or length of residency requirement for legal separation in Oregon, but at least one of the spouses must be a resident of Oregon when the filing for legal separation happens.

Initial Procedure

The petitioner serves the respondent with the summons and petition. The spouse may voluntarily accept service or the petitioner may serve the papers via civil sheriff or another neutral adult.

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