Oregon permitted registered domestic partnerships before the Supreme Court’s 2015 repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. According to Forbes magazine, a domestic partnership automatically converted into a legal marriage in some states. For those same-sex couples who lived with each other and also acquired property together, the court may decide on the division of property in the same manner as a married couple. When a couple decides to dissolve their relationship, determining how long the spouses lived with each other as a partnership or a marriage may prove a significant factor.
During the divorce proceedings, same-sex spouses may have particular concerns about splitting up property purchased before and after a legal marriage. Both spouses generally have an ownership interest in all the assets, income and property acquired during a marriage or registered domestic partnership. Under Oregon’s equitable distribution laws, the family court divides marital property by what the court views as “fair” to each spouse. In many cases, however, fairness does not always mean splitting things equally and in half between two individuals.
Splitting assets considered marital property
All assets and property acquired jointly make up a couple’s marital property. If both spouses worked and contributed equally to its acquisition, a 50-50 split may seem fair. An equal division could prove difficult or impossible, however, such as in the case of a couple’s house. Appraising the home and negotiating a buyout from one spouse may then seem fair. A couple may also decide to sell the house and then split the proceeds equally.
Dividing separate property
The court will typically consider assets and property acquired by a spouse on his or her own while single as separate property. Providing proof of ownership, however, may help when one spouse attempts to claim an asset as marital property for reasons other than a genuine contribution to its acquisition.
Rights to a spouse’s income
The courts view income earned during a marriage as marital property. A nonworking spouse who shared bank, retirement or other financial accounts with a working spouse may request alimony or other financial support as part of the divorce proceedings.