The divorce process is rarely straightforward or easy. Even couples who are separating on amicable terms can find this experience emotionally challenging and logistically complex. As you navigate through your divorce, you will face several crucial discussions and decisions, such as how you will handle the division of property and debts, whether spousal support is warranted, and other topics that carry lasting consequences. It is natural to feel intimidated and overwhelmed at times, which is why enlisting the assistance of a trusted and compassionate attorney is highly recommended. Your lawyer will work with you to identify and articulate your divorce goals. From there, you will determine the most strategic course of action to ensure you enjoy the solid and stable foundation you need to begin your life’s next chapter. This post will focus on one of the most important aspects of the Oregon divorce process—navigating the equitable distribution of property and debt.
Defining Equitable Distribution in Oregon
Equitable distribution refers to the method by which Oregon courts divide marital property between both parties during the divorce process. It is essential to understand that “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal,” so your marital assets may not be split 50/50 between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Instead, the court will strive to divide the property in a way that seems most fair. For instance, instead of selling your marital home and splitting the proceeds 50/50, one party may take possession of the house while the other person walks away with a larger amount of other marital assets. The goal of Oregon’s equitable distribution model is to ensure both parties walk away from their marriages with the resources they need to enjoy a stable and secure future.
Understanding Separate and Marital Property
As you approach your divorce, it is helpful to understand the two main types of property that will be addressed during the proceedings. Separate property refers to the assets each spouse possessed before the marriage, plus assets acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage; marital assets refer to any property acquired or earned over the course of the marriage. According to Oregon’s equitable distribution model, the court presumes both spouses contributed equally to assets acquired during the marriage, so each party is presumed to be entitled to one-half of these marital assets during the divorce. However, either party may argue that their spouse did not contribute to a certain acquisition, or the parties may negotiate the division of certain marital assets in a way that suits their specific needs and goals. For the most part, separate property remains in the hands of the party that possessed it prior to the marriage or received it by gift or inheritance during the marriage.
Factors That Influence Property Division
First, it is essential to remember that equitable distribution does not mean the court will split the marital assets into perfect halves. Instead, it will evaluate several factors to determine the fairest allocation of marital property between the two spouses. Some of the various factors the court uses to determine property division in Oregon include the number of homes or properties, pensions, retirement plans, tax obligations and implications, the income-producing potential of an asset, medical or special needs of each spouse (and if applicable, their children), and any future income or financial needs anticipated by each spouse. If you are not able to agree with your spouse about how to divide your marital assets, you will have to make your argument to the court, including whether your spouse contributed equally to any specific marital asset. For instance, you may argue that your spouse did not contribute to the acquisition in any way and, as a result, should not be entitled to possession of this item or benefit, nor an offset of equivalent value from other property. It is also possible for the divorcing couple to handle these divisions themselves, although the process often becomes heated, tense, and challenging. Enlisting the support of an experienced Portland divorce lawyer is the best way to ensure you obtain an equitable and favorable outcome.
Supporting You at Every Turn
If you are feeling overwhelmed or alone as you face the end of your marriage, you are far from alone. This is a significant life transition, and it is completely natural to experience intense emotions as you work to lay the foundation for your post-divorce life. However, it is essential to recognize that you never have to be alone during this process. Working with a trusted and a compassionate divorce attorney can give you the information and reassurance you need to make each decision with greater clarity and confidence. Whether you and your spouse negotiate the terms of your divorce yourselves or you take the matter to court for a resolution, you can trust that your attorney will support and protect your best interests at every turn. Your lawyer will remain at your side to answer your questions, address your concerns, and empower you to face each step with certainty.
Call Kuzma Law, LLC, at (503) 406-1787 to learn more about your divorce options in the greater Portland area.