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A Guide to Spousal Support in Oregon

Published October 21, 2020
Although spousal support (or alimony) payments are not involved in all divorces, Oregon judges typically use them to ensure that both spouses have the support they need to build successful independent futures. Learn more about spousal support by talking to an experienced divorce lawyer today.

Disentangling your life from that of your spouse can be a challenging process, as there are so many factors to consider. The decisions you make during the divorce process can carry significant consequences and impact your future in major ways. One aspect of divorce is determining whether one spouse should make spousal support (also called alimony) payments to the other spouse. While spousal support is not required in all instances of divorce, it can be especially useful in separations where one spouse is at a significant financial disadvantage after the marriage ends. Oregon courts seek to ensure that both individuals have the support they need in order to move on and create new, independent futures, and a spousal support order may allow the divorcing spouses to achieve an equitable outcome.

What the Court Considers

There is no specific formula that judges use to calculate spousal support. Instead, the judge has the authority to examine several factors to determine whether a spousal support agreement is necessary to ensure an equitable divorce. While these factors may vary from judge to judge and from case to case, there are a few key considerations that most courts look at: the duration of the marriage; the ages of the spouses; the employment status and earning potential of each spouse; and the health of the spouses, among other considerations.

Most importantly, the judge will look at the ability of each spouse to earn a living when they leave the marriage. If one spouse has worked at a stable job throughout the course of the marriage and will consider doing so, then the judge will see that this individual will likely enjoy a similar standard of living as they had during the marriage. However, if the other spouse forfeited a career in order to raise children or maintain the home, a judge will likely compel the other spouse to make spousal support payments that will help the lower-earning spouse become more employable, land a job, and adjust to a new financial reality.

Various Types of Spousal Support

Just as all cases are not the same, there are different types of spousal support agreements that are suited to address various situations: transitional support, compensatory support, and maintenance support. Transitional support allows the lower-earning spouse to receive financial support for a specific length of time, during which they reenter the job market or receive additional training to compete in the employment sector. Compensatory support, which is rarer, is designed to offset a large inequity during the divorce—specifically when there has been a significant financial or other contribution by one spouse to the education, training, vocational skills, career, or earning capacity of the other spouse. Maintenance support is more of a long-term arrangement, typically for couples who have a large gap in earning potential that is unlikely to change.

Resolving Your Spousal Support Matter

If you are worried that the spousal support agreement is unfair in some way, it’s best to reach out to a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can help you decide how to set things right. You can share your concerns with your lawyer so that they can present your perspective to the court and ensure that you receive a fair outcome. It’s important to remember that no arrangement is truly permanent—circumstances change, and so can a spousal support order. If you have questions about how to pursue a modification to an existing order, contact your attorney to discuss your options.


At Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C., we are committed to serving every client with the respect and attention they deserve. Call a knowledgeable and compassionate Portland divorce and family law attorney today at (503) 233-8868 to get started.

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