Under Oregon law, there are three ways to alter the legal status of marriage: divorce, legal separation, and annulment. A divorce legally ends the marriage. Oregon is a “no fault” state, which means that either party may seek to end the marriage for any reason, so long as there are “irreconcilable differences” between the parties that make the marriage no longer viable. Depending on the facts of your case, in a divorce, you may need to resolve property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support.
A legal separation does not end the marriage. The duration of the separation may be for a fixed period of time, or may be for an unlimited period of time. For the first two years after entry of a separation judgment, either party can seek to convert the separation into a divorce. Generally, legal separations involve the same issues as a divorce, such as property division, support, and custody.
An annulment restores the parties to their legal status as if no marriage had ever taken place. There are narrow grounds on which the court will annul a marriage. Some of those grounds include (1) one spouse was legally married to another person as of the date of marriage; (2) consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud; and (3) one or both parties were incapable of understanding that the parties were entering into a marriage. An annulment that takes place shortly after the marriage generally awards each party his or her premarital property. Support and custody issues depend on the facts of the case. An annulment that takes place some time after the marriage generally involves all of the issues parties typically deal with in a divorce.