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A glimpse into Oregon’s alimony reform

By now, you may have heard a statistic thrown around that more than half of marriages end in divorce. While the numeric gauge of divorce numbers varies from resource to resource, one fact remains true: divorce happens.

Alimony is a payment system applied to divorced couples. Under this system, the financially stable spouse makes payments to the dependent spouse after the dissolution of marriage. The idea is that the supported spouse can continue to maintain the quality of life he or she experienced during the marriage – even after the divorce. To make this a possibility, the court will make an alimony order against the financially superior spouse. This person submits recurring payments to the party in need.

The problem is that this payment plan can be indefinite and somewhat burdensome for some individuals. For this reason, some Oregon residents are advocating for a change in spousal support laws in the state.

Those in support of a payment cap hope to modernize alimony laws. The reasoning is that many alimony payers struggle to make ends meet while former spouses reap the benefits of payments. Reformers believe that the payment system, like Oregon’s child support system, should not have a permanent or indefinite lifespan. Instead, former spouses should be entitled to a fair standard of living for a reasonable period, which is limited after a divorce.

Oregon is not the only state with efforts toward reform. For example, in 2011, Massachusetts implemented hefty alimony reform laws. There have also been similar efforts in other states, such as Florida.

In Oregon, those in support of capped spousal support payments are generally advocating the following notions:

  • Restricting the duration of spousal support payments (to a practical amount of time).
  • Excluding the earnings of a supporter’s new partner in calculating the support obligation.
  • Ending the payment order upon remarriage or cohabitation with a new partner.
  • Termination of payments upon retirement.
  • A revised and efficient system for payment modifications when the payer experiences a change in financial status.

These encapsulate the main points pushed by those in favor of alimony reform. Advocates also desire an efficient payment calculator – similar to that for child support – which helps predict payment amounts in a reasonable fashion. At this time, payments vary drastically from case to case.

In 2013, a legislative bill proposal came forward regarding spousal support reform. House Bill 2559 aimed to accomplish a few of reformers’ goals. However, the proposal ultimately died in the House of Representatives.

Until further law proposals move into lawmakers’ hands, spousal support laws remain the same in Oregon.

If you are dealing with specific alimony issues pursuant to your divorce, it is best to have a legal representative by your side. An experienced lawyer can help you address your particular case.