Equitable Distribution in Oregon Explained

Let's Untie the Knot | Equitable Distribution in Oregon Explained

In Oregon, divorce laws follow the rule of equitable distribution, where assets and debts are divided in a manner that is considered to be “fair” to both parties.  Equitable distribution is unique in that, rather than treating the parties as equal, equitable distribution takes into account some factors when determining the division of property.  Some of these factors include the length of the marriage, the respective needs of each party and the financial contribution each party made to the marriage.

The division of marital property:

Most assets accumulated over the course of a marriage are considered marital property, however, there are exceptions (for instance, gifts and inheritance are considered separate property).  Separate property is awarded only to the spouse who owns it.  However, if one party brought an asset into the marriage and commingled it with other property, the asset would then be considered to be marital property.  In other words, if you brought personal property into the marriage but then commingled it with marital property, the court will consider it to be marital property.

The division of separate property:

If you inherit something and you keep it completely separate during the course of your marriage, it is considered to be separate property.  That said, all divisions of assets are subject to court review and approval to ensure a split is just and fair.  One way to safeguard an inheritance is to have your spouse sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, under which both parties agree that the asset belongs exclusively to you, no matter how it is characterized during the marriage. 

In general, any property that you acquire prior to marriage or after the date of separation is considered separate property.  That said, if you commingle with marital property, the court will no longer consider it to be separate property.  For instance, depositing money received from a gift into a joint bank account can be considered commingling.

Let's Untie the Knot | Postnup Primer

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