Equitable Distribution: Understanding the Division of Property in an Oregon Divorce

When going through a divorce in Oregon, one of the most difficult steps is the division of property. Figuring out what you get to keep, and what will go to your spouse can be very stressful and even confusing. Many people think that all assets and debts will be split 50/50, but that is not the case. In Oregon, division of property occurs through a process known as equitable distribution. Rather than splitting everything evenly, the courts will attempt to split things up in what they consider to be a fair way.

What Does Equitable Distribution Really Mean

When dividing assets, the judge will do his or her best to ensure both parties are able to come out of the divorce in as good of a position as possible. If a couple owns two vehicles, for example, the judge will likely award one to each. If there is only one home involved, the judge will typically award the home to one party and some additional assets such as a greater share of any cash or investments that the couple had to the other.

Every divorce is unique, and the judge will have quite a bit of discretion when determining exactly how the debts and assets should be split. This is one reason why it is so important to have a good attorney who can communicate the legal reasoning behind your position in the hearing.

Factors that Judges Consider

While the judge will make specific decisions on a case by case basis, there are quite a few factors that they are supposed to consider when dividing assets. The following are some key areas they will look at:

  • Children – The number of children involved, and who will have primary physical custody of them is a major factor. Judges will try to minimize the impact of the divorce on the children whenever possible.
  • Separate Property – Separate property is any property that was either brought into the marriage by one party, or inherited by one party during the marriage. Judges will try to keep separate property with the party to whom the property originally belonged. Separate property, however, will also be considered when splitting up marital property.
  • Spousal Support – Judges may use spousal support to make the split more equitable for both parties, though that is not always the case.
  • Income Potential – The current and potential income of each party will be evaluated and factored into the judge’s decisions.

Whenever going through a divorce, both parties can expect to get some, but not all, of what they want from the judge. The best way to make sure you get a fair distribution of assets is to have an attorney advocating for your interests in the courtroom.