Divorce in Oregon: How is alimony determined?

One of the most contested and complex issues that may arise during an Oregon divorce is the matter of alimony, or, as it is referred to under Oregon law, spousal support. Indeed, disputes related to spousal support are often not only emotional and tumultuous but can involve several statutory provisions and complicated calculations.

Types of spousal support in Oregon

Oregon courts are expressly allowed under the law to order spousal support for a "period of time as may be just and equitable." Consequently, there are three major types of spousal support in Oregon that can be awarded, which include:

  • Transitional Support: Support payments designed to aid the recipient in his or her pursuit of the necessary education or training needed to re-enter or advance in the job market.
  • Compensatory Support: Support intended to reimburse the recipient for his or her significant financial contributions to the other spouse's education, training, career or earning capacity during the marriage.
  • Maintenance Support: Support intended to allow the recipient to maintain his or her established standard of living that he or she enjoyed throughout the marriage, and can be awarded for a predetermined amount of time or indefinite

Considerations when determining alimony

There are many factors that a court may consider when awarding spousal support in Oregon, although many of these factors may change depending on the type of spousal support contemplated. For instance, while a court will typically examine a spouse's established standard of living when ordering maintenance support, this same factor will be of less importance for courts reviewing the possibility of compensatory support.

However, several pivotal factors are common to all support types in Oregon, including:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The tax implications to each party
  • The employment skills and training of the parties, which can include the earning capacity of each party

Even though spousal support will always terminate upon the death either party, the payments may also be modified upon the occurrence of a significant change in circumstances - particularly when the change in circumstances fulfills the original purpose of the spousal support order. For example, while remarriage, by itself, may not be sufficient grounds for termination of spousal support in Oregon, if the remarriage results in a substantial increase to the recipient's income, a modification may be warranted.

Ultimately, the law in Oregon regarding spousal support may be complex, which is why it is generally best to consult with an experienced alimony attorney if you are considering divorce and believe spousal support may be a disputed issue. A knowledgeable attorney can help explain your options and assist in ensuring your rights are protected.