Property Division in Divorce
One of the most difficult parts of a divorce is asset distribution or figuring out how to divide the property acquired during the marriage, known as the marital assets. Marital assets include a spouse’s business, house, car and retirement accounts. A judge must decide which assets you will own and which will be owned by your spouse. Because Oregon is not a community property state, Oregon courts use a standard called equitable distribution to divide marital assets. Although many people think this means a 50/50 division, it does not. Courts do not have to divide marital assets perfectly evenly, but they must do it fairly.
Equitable Asset Distribution in Oregon
The court starts with the presumption that both parties contributed to an asset evenly. If there is evidence to show otherwise, one party may seek to rebut the presumption of equal contribution so that they can receive more than half of the asset. Other factors that may justify awarding more asserts to one spouse include the desire to maintain stability for children, the existence of a spousal support award and the breach of fiduciary duty by one spouse during the marriage.
Community Property in Oregon
Community Property is property owned jointly by a married couple. Upon divorce most states require a strict 50/50 division of community property. Because Oregon is not a community property state there is no rule that requires a strict 50/50 division of a couple’s jointly owned property. Oregon is instead an “equitable distribution” state, which means that property must be divided equitably, or fairly, but not necessarily evenly. Because Oregon is surrounded by community property states (Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California) couples may acquire community property in those states, which later should be divided equally if they divorce in Oregon.
Separate Property in Oregon
In addition to marital assets each spouse may also have separate property in Oregon. Separate property is usually acquired before the marriage, but may also be acquired during the marriage by gift, inheritance or as part of a personal injury settlement. The courts treat this property separately from marital assets and usually award it to the spouse who owns it.
Property Division of Unmarried Couples – Co-Mingled Assets in Oregon
Although court normally can only divide property of married couples they may also do so when parties have formed a domestic partnership. This has nothing to do with whether a couple is the same-sex, rather it depends on whether the couple has shown an intent to comingle their assets, sort of like a common law marriage.