Property Division Attorney

Unlike its neighboring states of Washington and California, Oregon is not a “community property” state. Rather, in Oregon, the allocation of property must be “equitable,” which means that the property division must be fair to both parties, considering all of the facts and circumstances of each case. There are statutes and decisions from the Oregon Supreme Court and Oregon Court of Appeals that provide guidance on what the outcome of a contested property division may be.

Under current Oregon law, there are two kinds, or categories, of property: (1) marital property, which includes all property of any kind in which either party has any interest, regardless of when it was acquired, and (2) marital assets, which consist solely of property acquired during the marriage. The category of marital assets includes increases in the value of premarital property.

There is a legal presumption that both parties equally contribute to marital assets (property acquired during the marriage), and that, absent other circumstances, marital assets should be equally divided except for property that a spouse received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage. Either party may contend, however, that some or all marital assets should not be equally divided. This usually happens when one or more of the following facts is present: (1) one party owned property before the marriage, which still exists, or is easily traceable to a current marital asset, and the party seeks a “credit” for all or part of the value of that property; or (2) there is strong evidence that one party did not make any substantial financial or non-economic contribution to the asset at issue. Other property disputes may arise when there is a disagreement about the value of real property, a business, or personal property, or a disagreement as to the allocation of debt.

Resolution of property disputes is very fact dependent, because, in every divorce, if the parties do not settle their differences, the court’s mandate is to ensure that a property division is fair under all of the circumstances. Courts have broad discretion to decide what is fair. There are some general guidelines, however. For example, the shorter the marriage, the easier it may be to get a credit for the value of premarital property. As another example, when a party receives property during the marriage from a gift or inheritance, and keeps that property in his her separate name, the “out” spouse may receive a part of the inheritance, even though she or he was not the intended beneficiary. Finally, experts are usually retained in a valuation dispute to help resolve those issues.

Peter has helped his clients deal with a wide range of property division issues, from non-disputed, simple property settlements to the division of multi-million dollar estates with complex assets, premarital credits, inheritances, and valuation issues. Regardless of the facts of your case, Peter will work with you to help you obtain a fair property division result.

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