Marital property and equitable distribution in Oregon

The breakup of a family unit or couple comes with a number of choices and decisions that must be made. Part of the divorce process in Washington County is the division of marital property. Therefore, it is important to understand what marital property is, how to determine the value of all marital property and how Oregon's equitable distribution laws work.

What is considered marital property?

It is important to understand that there is separate property and then there is marital property. Separate property is property, assets or monies that a spouse acquired before the marriage. For example if the husband owned the home prior to the marriage or had been involved in investing, then those properties are likely considered separate. After the marriage occurs, spouses can continue to receive separate property in the form of a gift, an inheritance or even a personal injury judgment according to Forbes.

Marital property is anything and everything that is not counted as separate property. This includes:

  • Retirement plans
  • Professional licenses
  • Some types of businesses, depending on their formation
  • Country club memberships
  • Bank accounts (regardless of whose name is on the account)
  • Debt

There are times when separate property no longer remains separate property. If a spouse puts money he or she inherited in a joint bank account, it could be considered marital property. The same rule may apply if a spouse adds the other spouse to the title of property that was purchased prior to the marriage. Even if there is a prenuptial agreement in place, there may be items that are not listed in the agreement which may be subject to division.

Assigning value

In order to receive a fair portion of the marital property that may exist, it is important to have a clear idea of what the marital property is worth and to do that, a couple should choose a date to valuate that property on. This is generally the date that the couple officially separated but a judge may choose differently. Once a couple has that date, an independent appraiser should be employed to determine what each item is worth on that specific date.

Couples should keep in mind that even if the property goes up in value the next day or following week, the increase is not considered in the divorce settlement.

Equitable distribution

When spouses are unable to come to a private agreement on how marital property should be distributed, it will fall upon a judge to make the final decision. Spouses should be aware that equitable division does not mean marital property is simply split down the middle, as it is in community property states. Instead, judges take into consideration a number of other factors such as the length of the marriage, the education level of both spouses, health of the spouses and whether there will be spousal support or child support obligations, according to The Huffington Post.

This means that spouses could receive more than half or less than half of the marital property, depending on these factors. If you are facing a divorce, it is in your best interest to meet with a qualified and experienced attorney.