Going through a separation and divorce is one of the most stressful experiences a person can have. Financial security, distribution of assets, and even alimony and child support considerations can be huge stressors, along with the emotional toll that divorce causes. There are many aspects to Oregon divorce laws, and reliable, knowledgeable, and skilled divorce attorneys are necessary to help navigate them.
Our experts here at Warren Allen LLP field many questions about property division and how it works. While there is no way to determine what judicial order might encompass, there are ways to gather and provide as much information as possible to help your divorce be less stressful. Here is a short guide on property division under Oregon divorce laws and what to expect:
Oregon is considered an equitable distribution state. Equitable distribution means the court will consider several factors in dividing up marital assets and what they believe to be marital assets to divide them up equitably. In some ways, this is an attempt to have a fairer distribution versus community property, where everything is divided 50/50.
The types of property that the court considers are real property and personal property. Real property is any land, buildings, homes, and condominiums. Mobile homes on rented land are not regarded as real property.
Personal property can include cars, jewelry, furniture, pension plans, retirement accounts, bank accounts, investment accounts, airline miles, cash on hand, and businesses. Any art collections, valuable collections, even life insurance policies, expected inheritances, and annuities are to be documented in what is submitted to the court.
Types of Documentation Needed
This is where part of the nuances of equitable distribution comes into play. While it may seem like Oregon divorce laws are attempting to be more fair in the distribution, proper documentation and evaluation are needed in order to do that. Providing the correct documentation of assets and liabilities is critical.
Real property requires an appraisal. Any businesses will also need an appraisal. Some personal property like vehicles, jewels, art, and collections will also need some form of assessment. Also crucial for documentation is the dates when either party in the marriage acquired these items. In some instances, assets and liabilities may not be subject to splitting under equitable distribution.
All mortgages, loans, credit cards, pending college tuition payments, student loan debts, and even pending lawsuits should be documented in what is given to the court. Even outstanding debt on businesses, tax debt, and future tax debt need to be considered.
While the court does not require documentation other than what they request, if there is a dispute on any of the value of any items, it’s better to have documentation available to support it. Consider gathering deeds, titles, bank and credit card statements, and other relevant information. If there were a prenuptial agreement, a copy would most assuredly be relevant in this case.
Filings to Submit to the Court
The court requires a submission of all of the assets, real and personal properties in the Statement of Assets and Liabilities form. This is where things get very specific, and distinctions are to be made. The courts want respondents to file this jointly and come to a decision on how and what is divided, but sometimes, that is not possible. If that is the case, each party needs to file this statement.
Regarding retirement accounts, the courts require filing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This is a complex document with the specific language needed by the financial and pension institutions in order to distribute. Incorrectly filing this out will be costly regarding time and money and is critical to the next step in the divorce process. The QDRO will instruct the retirement account holders on how these accounts will be split up and enable them to create two separate accounts based on that information.
Considerations Under Equitable Distribution
Most people don’t realize that these filings are to be agreed upon before submitting, if possible. Distributions must not be equal to be considered fair and equitable. This is where documentation and evaluation come into play.
Consider assets acquired before the marriage, like a house. Factors like how long the marriage lasted, how much the other spouse contributed to maintaining or renovating, and if they contributed towards the mortgage all become relevant to the distribution of this asset. If the house increases in value during the marriage, it can also affect how this asset is considered under distribution.
The same goes for debt. If a spouse had secretly run up credit cards for a gambling addiction and the other spouse was unaware, this might be considered differently. Still, if a spouse gets into debt after the separation, that might also be factored in. If there is business debt and even future expenses like tuition are all factors that weigh into equitable distribution.
There are a lot of factors that the courts consider when doing property division, and it can be complex. The court will look at many factors, including the age and health of the spouses, how much financial contributions each spouse made, and the earning power of each spouse. Child support, alimony, and current lifestyle are all considerations. The court considers non-financial contributions to the marriage, like a spouse made into the marriage for the other spouse to be successful in their career.
Property and asset division will usually come up in any divorce. While parties are expected to come up with an agreement, sometimes that isn’t possible without professional help. You can find expert advice from our team at the Warren Allen LLP website. Our experience has helped Portland area residents for decades, and you can count on our excellence in helping you navigate this difficult time in your life.