March 22, 2012

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

On March 14, 2012, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided Wolfe and Wolfe. In this case, the wife appealed the trial court’s assignment of certain investment accounts to the husband as his separate property. The wife also appealed the duration and amount of spousal support awarded by the trial court, but the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s award after modifying the distribution of property.

The parties accumulated significant property and investments during the marriage. The husband also owned two investment accounts and an interest in a trust. The trial court awarded these assets to the husband as his separate property. The Court of Appeals, however, found that although the husband had rebutted the presumption of equal contribution as to those assets, the fact that he had used those assets to pay for family expenses, that he intended those assets to benefit the family long term, and that he and the wife had relied on those assets in their joint financial planning, made it just and proper to award the wife a portion of those assets. The court awarded the wife an additional $2 million of the husband’s $10 million in separate assets.

The entire opinion can be found here.