The Legal Complications of Dating in Oregon Before a Divorce

By Wayne Thomas

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If your marriage has deteriorated, you may be eager to move on with your life. Although dating can seem like a logical next step, starting a new relationship before a your divorce is finalized in Oregon can do more than anger your spouse; it may result in unintended legal consequences.

No-Fault State

Oregon is a pure no-fault divorce state. This means that marital fault -- including adultery -- cannot be used as a ground for divorce, and is ordinarily not taken into consideration in divorce-related matters such as property division and custody. However, while dating before a divorce and after it is filed does not provide any direct leverage for a spouse, it may nonetheless play an indirect role in determining the terms of your divorce.

Child Custody

Dating before or during a divorce may affect the child custody arrangement. Oregon, like all states, decides custody based on the best interests of the child after considering several factors outlined in state law. While dating is not a specific factor, the relationship between both parents and the children is considered. If you are dating, your children may not approve and be less inclined to want to spend time with you. Further, your spouse may be upset and resistant to working towards an agreement. This can put strain on the relationships you have with your spouse and your children. As a result, if the court finds that the bond between your spouse and the children is stronger than yours by comparison, it could tip the scales in favor of your spouse being awarded more in the way of custody.

Child Support

In Oregon, dating by itself does not normally affect child support. However, if you decide to move in with someone, this could impact the amount of the obligation when the divorce is filed. Although judges use a standard formula based on the incomes of both parents, courts in Oregon are allowed to deviate from the calculation. By living with someone, the court may find that by sharing your expenses with your new significant other, you have more income available to pay support, or you need less support -- depending on whether you are the parent receiving the support or are ordered to pay.

Property Division

Oregon does not require judges to divide marital property equally. Instead, when you file for divorce, the court will look to several factors contained in state law to arrive at a fair distribution. Although courts are not allowed to consider adultery as a reason to reduce your share, you may receive less if you used marital property to support an affair -- such as by purchasing jewelry for the person you are dating. Further, when a divorce is filed, a temporary restraining order typically goes into effect, which limits your ability to transfer marital property and income beyond basic necessities.

Spousal Support

In addition to dividing property, Oregon courts have the authority to award spousal support, also known as alimony, after considering both spouses' needs and ability to pay. This is to help ensure that the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage continues after divorce. While dating before or during a divorce is not a factor, moving in with somebody can affect how the court interprets your financial position and needs.