December 14, 2009

Can I renegotiate my divorce property settlement?

We consult with many people with Oregon divorce and family law cases.  One of the most painful questions to hear is when someone who settled the property part of a divorce asks about renegotiating the property distribution.  The question is painful because the answer is harsh. Property divisions, once finalized in a judgment, are non-modifiable.  The court has no authority to reopen property division post divorce just because you are unhappy with how things were divided.

There are some limited exceptions where the court can revisit part of a property award.  One exception is for “omitted” assets.  The court has the authority under ORS 107.452 to reopen the property distribution if a significant asset is left out of the division. What authority the court has depends on whether the asset was omitted accidentally or concealed and omitted intentionally.

It is critical to make sure you are aware of the nature and extent of the marital property, and that you have good advice from a lawyer about what property division is fair in your case. You should consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before signing any final property agreement.