March 21, 2012

New Case Law – “Just and Proper” Division of Marital Assets

On December 14, 2011, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided Hanscam and Hanscam. In this case, the wife appealed the trial court’s division of property. The property in dispute included a rental property the husband purchased prior to the marriage, the husband’s accounting practice, the husband’s interest in a family partnership, and a Porsche. The trial court awarded the husband his premarital equity in the rental property, his premarital ownership interest in the accounting practice, his interest in the family business, and the full value of the Porsche as his separate property. The Court of Appeals, however, stated that although the husband’s premarital ownership in both the rental property and his accounting practice was one factor it must consider, it must also consider whether it was just and proper in all the circumstances to award that property to the husband as his separate asset. In this case, the wife’s contribution to and involvement in the management of the rental property entitled her to share equally in its value. Further, the wife’s contributions to the family which allowed the husband to grow his accounting practice, combined with her reliance on the practice as the family’s primary source of income, entitled her to share in the fully value of that asset. Finally, because the husband used marital funds to make improvements to the Porsche, the court found that the wife should share equally in its increase in value during the marriage. The court did not disturb the trial court’s treatment of the family business, which was the husband’s separately held property throughout the marriage.

 The entire opinion can be found here.