Alimony in Oregon

Let's Untie the Knot | Alimony in Oregon

In Oregon, alimony is called “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance.”  Spouses can reach an agreement about a specified amount of alimony or the court will order it if an agreement can’t be reached.  Judges often award spousal support if a party needs help paying for the divorce, requires it to meet basic needs or to preserve a marital lifestyle or help a spouse become financially independent.  Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 107.095 (1)(a))

What types of spousal support are available in Oregon?

  1. Temporary spousal support:  Judges can award temporary spousal support to a dependent spouse during the legal divorce process.  The purpose of temporary support is to cover a short-term earning disparity between the spouses. Transitional support is most common when one spouse needs financial support and time in order to become financially independent.  Transitional support is short term and usually reserved for marriages that were short/mid length in duration. 
  1. Spousal maintenance:  Spousal maintenance is a form of alimony that the court usually reserves for long term marriages and allows the supported spouse to maintain a standard of living equivalent to the marital lifestyle.  A court may also order spousal maintenance when one spouse is unable to become self-supporting due to age, disability or absence from the workplace.  The court may set an end date for spousal maintenance or order that it continue indefinitely (permanently). 
  1. Compensatory spousal support:  This type of support is unique in that it repays a spouse for the contributions he or she made during the marriage to the other spouse’s education, training or earning capacity.  For instance, if you worked and paid for your husband to attend medical school, the court would order your spouse to pay you compensatory spousal support.  This type of support would end once the supporting spouse pays the order in full.

What are the factors for calculating spousal support in Oregon?

Oregon is unique from other states in that different Oregon statutes set forth various factors for judges to consider when determining support.  The first step for establishing support is for the requesting spouse to establish his or her financial need and the ability of the other spouse to pay.  Once the court is satisfied that the petitioning spouse qualifies for support, it will decide the appropriate type of support (transitional, compensatory or maintenance) and determine the amount and duration of support.  The following factors are considered for the three types of support:

Transitional Support:  Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 107.105 (d)(A). 

  • The length of the marriage
  • Spouse’s work experience
  • Spouse’s training and employment skills
  • Financial needs and resources of the respective spouses
  • Custodial and child support responsibilities

Spousal Maintenance:  Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 107.105(d)(C)

  • Length of the marriage
  • Age of both spouses
  • Health of both spouses
  • Marital standard of living
  • Relative income and earning capacities of each spouse
  • Spouse’s training and employment skills
  • Financial needs and resources of each spouse
  • Custodial or child support responsibilities

Compensatory Support:  Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 107.105(d)(B)

  • Amount, duration and nature of spouse’s contribution
  • Length of the marriage
  • Relative earning capacities of each spouse
  • Extent to which marital estate already benefited from the contribution

How do you have to pay spousal support?

A judge has wide latitude in determining the amount of and the method for the payment of spousal support.  Unlike many states, Oregon does not have a formulaic process for calculating what support payments will be after a divorce.  A judge can order a lump sum payment, periodic payments or the transfer of property ownership.  Periodic payments are the most common form of payment structures utilized and judges order monthly or quarterly installments.  Courts can include an income withholding order, which directs the paying spouse’s employer to withhold spousal support from the paying spouse’s paycheck and forward it to the supported spouse.  In cases in which the paying spouse has a significant amount of property from the divorce, the court can order the supporting spouse to transfer ownership of real or personal property to the recipient.  (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 107.105).


Can you ask the court to modify the order for spousal support?

Either party can ask the court to modify or terminate the spousal support order.  However, the court will only alter or terminate support if the requesting spouse demonstrates a substantial change in circumstances to either spouse, since the last order.  In the cases of compensatory support, the requesting spouse must demonstrate an involuntary, extraordinary and unanticipated change that reduced the paying spouse’s ability to pay or earn income.  Or. Rev. Stat. § 107.135 (3).

What are the tax implications of paying or receiving spousal support?

Prior to January 1, 2019, the party paying spousal support could deduct it from his or her taxes and the recipient had to include it as income.  However, spousal support agreements finalized on or after January 1, 2019 are neither deductible by the payor nor taxable to the recipient. 

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