Quite often, we are asked what a person may be entitled to in a divorce
in Oregon. Some want to know if they are entitled to support payments
from their spouse. Some people are concerned how assets and property will
be divided, who keeps the house, or who will be responsible for debts.
So, how is it determined who gets what?
The answer depends on what is established to be “marital property”
(sometimes referred to as joint property) and what qualifies as “separate
property.” This same method is also applied to debts. This can be
a difficult task, especially when the two parties don’t get along
and want to stake claim to everything.
At the end of the day, there are numerous factors that go into these determinations
and understanding what they are is important. Below, our Oregon divorce
lawyers break down some of the ways assets and income are divided to give
you a better idea of the property or money to which you may be entitled.
Marital Property and Separate Property
In a divorce, the two parties must both provide an “inventory”
regarding the property owned and any debts that are owed. It is then determined
what is marital property and what is separate property:
- Marital property is considered all assets acquired while the parties are married.
- Separate property consists of the items brought into the marriage by each
party. Separate property may also apply to certain items like gifts or
inheritances, regardless of whether or not it was received during the marriage.
Dividing Property: Equitable Distribution
In Oregon, divorce law follows the rule of equitable distribution, where
assets and debts are divided in a manner that is considered fair to both
parties. In many instances, the marital property is divided equally and
each spouse keeps their own separate property. In some cases, however,
“equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.”
Some non-monetary contributions are equal to monetary efforts depending
on what they are, such as one spouse spending most of the time during
the marriage as the homemaker and allowing the other spouse the time to
work. Or one spouse contributing to increase the value of the separate
property of another spouse, such as a business or house. Or if one spouse
accrued a large amount of debt. In these cases, one spouse may be awarded
more marital property (and sometimes some separate property if necessary)
to more fairly represent the contributions of each party.
Spousal Support (a.k.a. Alimony)
Determining if a spouse is entitled to financial support depends on a number
of factors. This includes the duration of the marriage, the income of
each party, the income earning ability of each party, the spouses’
ages, and more. For instance, if one partner stayed home to care for the
children and gave up a career, they may receive support until they are
either able to gain income or they remarry. This is to make sure the standard
of living is not compromised and the parties can maintain the same lifestyle
they had while married.
It is also important to note that each parent is financially responsible
for their children, and child support payments are determined based on
calculations provided by Oregon State courts, and are not subject to any
of the rules that apply to spousal support or property division.
Consult an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation
If you are facing a divorce and have concerns about property or your financial
well-being, our team at McKinley Irvin is experienced and committed protecting
what our clients value most. Contact our Portland office to consult an
attorney about what you may be entitled to in a divorce.