When a couple gets married, each spouse brings what the possessions they own to the marriage. During the marriage, the couple may acquire and share additional real and personal property. Once one or both spouses decide to end the marriage, each is entitled to certain property, support, and, if children are involved, visitation.
Marital Property and Separate Property
In a divorce, the property owned by the married couple is split by agreement between the couple or by determination of the court. Oregon is an equitable distribution state, which means that property acquired or changed in value during the marriage is distributed between spouse is a fair manner but not necessarily in an equal split. When spouses cannot agree how to split the property, Oregon law requires each spouse to submit to the court and to the other spouse a list of all property and debts.
The property of each spouse is designated as either separate property or marital property. Property that a spouse owns before the marriage is separate property and usually retains the separate property designate at the time of divorce. Under Oregon law, separate property also includes property a spouse acquires by gift, devise, bequest, operation of law, beneficiary designation, or inheritance. Marital property is property that spouses obtain after they are married unless the property meets the qualification to be designated separate property. Each spouse is entitled to their own separate property and fair apportionment of marital property.
A spouse may also be entitled to spousal support. A court may order one spouse to pay a set amount of support in installments or a lump sum. Spousal support in the form of spousal maintenance is paid by one spouse to the other for a specified or indefinite period of time. Factors for awarding spousal maintenance support include:
- How long the spouses have been married;
- The financial needs and resources of each spouse;
- Standard of living during the marriage;
- The income and earning capacity of each spouse; and
- Each spouse custodial and child support responsibilities;
Child Support and Child Custody
In divorce cases that involve children, the spouses may agree on their own or the court decides child custody arrangements and child support obligations. Whether one parent or both parents have legal or physical custody of their child, the court may order child support to be paid by one parent to the other for the care of the child. As a part of the child support order, the spouse receiving child support also is entitled to receive payment for medical expenses not covered by insurance as well as medical support for the child by the paying parent.
Noncustodial parents and parents with joint custody are entitled to visitation with their child if it is in the best interest of the child. Visitation is not allowed to be altered or hindered by the noncompliance of paying child support. The custodial parent cannot withhold visitation because the other parent is not paying child support. The paying parent cannot stop paying child support under a court order just because the other parent is preventing visitation with the child.