Oregon Divorce – Marital Property Division

Laws regarding property division upon divorce vary greatly from state to state. The following information is intended to provide you with a basic understanding of property division in an Oregon divorce case.

Oregon: A Marital Property State

Under Oregon divorce law, nearly all property accumulated during the course of a marriage is considered “marital” property. This means that in the state of Oregon, generally speaking, property acquired by either spouse during the course of a marriage is considered to belong to both spouses jointly. Property acquired during marriage is presumed under Oregon law to belong to each spouse equally.

There are some exceptions to this general rule. Property acquired by either spouse by gift, inheritance, or recoveries from personal injuries sustained by the spouse is not community property.

When dividing property and assets in a divorce case, Oregon places the property in to two different categories: marital property and separate property.

Marital Property

Marital property consists of property, other than one spouse’s separate property, acquired during the marriage including:

  • Real property: homes, land, vacation homes, etc.
  • Businesses and business interests
  • Cars, boats, and other vehicles
  • Retirement accounts and investment accounts including IRA’s, pensions, annuities, etc.
  • Bank accounts

Generally speaking, anything acquired during the marriage that has value (other than the exceptions listed) is considered community property.

Separate Property

Separate property consists of all property acquired by a spouse before the date of the marriage. Additionally, property acquired during the marriage by gift, inheritance, or money received for personal injuries sustained by a spouse is also considered that spouse’s separate property.

Simply because one spouse is named on the title, deed, or account alone does not make the property personal property.

A spouse must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property is separate property. If the court is not shown enough evidence to prove that the property is one spouse’s separate property, then it will be considered marital property.

Once a court determines a specific piece of property to be separate property, then the court cannot take that piece of property away from the separate property owner. The court will essentially set that individual piece of property aside for the spouse to whom it belongs when determining how to divide the remaining property in a divorce.

Marital Property Division in an Oregon Divorce

Once the separate property has been “set aside” for the separate property owners, then the court will look at the remaining community property of the marriage and determine how to divide that property.

Oregon divorce law follows “equitable distribution,” which seeks fair, not always equal, division of property. While you and your spouse may determine the division of your property and debts in a settlement, if you cannot come to an agreement, the Oregon divorce court will divide it for you. The court generally will not consider any marital “fault” when dividing your property

In making its division of property, the Oregon divorce court may consider:

  • • The cost of any sale of assets.
  • • The amount of taxes and liens on the property.
  • • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker.
  • • Any retirement benefits, including social security, civil service, military and railroad retirement benefits.
  • • Any life insurance coverage.
  • • Whether the property award is instead of, or in addition to, spousal support.

In most cases of divorce in Oregon, the court will divide your total property evenly between you and your spouse. However, if one spouse can show that he/she contributed more to the acquisition of some of the marital property, then the court will divide your property in whatever way is found to be most just and proper.

Essentially, the court is given a wide array of discretion in determining the best way to divide marital assets and property in a divorce.