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Oregon Marital Property Laws

Oregon is not a community property state, meaning that in cases of divorce, marital property is not automatically split 50/50 between the two parties. This may allow for a more fair division of assets but also brings a great deal more confusion and uncertainty into the question of who-gets-what in the event of a separation. 

What Defines Marital Property? 

As a general rule, any property which was bought or received during the marriage becomes marital property, regardless of whose name is on it. 

Any property that either spouse owned before the marriage, as well as certain types of property such as inheritance or gifts received during the marriage, maybe considered separate property and is not subject to division during a divorce. However, Oregon courts have the discretion to divide assets earned prior to the marriage, regardless of which spouse is the title owner. 

An Oregon court will generally accept an agreement between you and your spouse regarding marital property if you can come to it on your own. Absent an agreement, courts will usually determine a “fair” property division. This is typically a 50/50 split, but not always. 

Equitable Distribution

Oregon judges determine property division under the equitable distribution policy, which means that the court divides property between the spouses in what is believed to be a fair distribution, based on each individual’s contributions to the marriage and their earning ability and needs following separation.

Oregon does not have a predetermined list of factors it considers, giving judges more flexibility in their judgments. Generally, however, courts will consider factors such as:

  • Each spouse’s share of the marital property
  • The Economic circumstances of each spouse
  • Whether either spouse will be supporting minor children
  • Either spouse’s past economic misconduct
  • Non-monetary contributions of each spouse

Economic Misconduct

In the context of property division, economic misconduct occurs when one spouse wastes marital assets through excessive spending, gambling, borrowing, etc. In Oregon, there are no laws requiring courts to consider economic misconduct by either spouse, but this conduct may be taken into account when determining property division between the spouses.
In many other states, economic misconduct can result in a higher percentage of marital property awarded to the injured spouse.


Oregon courts also treat debt like any other piece of property. If it was accrued during the marriage, it is viewed as marital property. Financial obligations are divided based on each spouse’s ability to pay and who is most responsible for that debt. If it was preexisting to the marriage, however, it remains the responsibility of the spouse who took on the debt. 

In short, it’s incredibly important to come to an agreement with your spouse regarding marital property if at all possible, and to secure trustworthy legal counsel while doing so. Give us a call today, and safeguard your and your family’s futures. 

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