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Property and Debt

Property and debts can be distributed in a divorce or legal separation. Oregon is an equitable distribution state. These issues can be very complicated, and if you make a mistake, you may not be able to fix it later. You should consider talking with a lawyer before making decisions about these issues. If parties cannot agree on how property and debts should be distributed, Oregon law requires each party to submit to the court and serve on the other party a statement listing all assets (property) and liabilities (debts). The statement includes information about all real property, personal property and debts acquired both separately and jointly by the parties, before and during the marriage. Check with your local court regarding the rules for when to file it. The Statement of Assets and Liabilities form is available on the website. More information is available at


​In a divorce, property will be described as either real or personal property. Real property is land or buildings. Mobile homes on rented land are not considered real property. Personal property includes all property other than real property, such as cars, furniture, pension plans, and stocks.

​Your right to the property or obligation to pay on joint debt is not dependent upon whose name the property or debt is in. If the property was acquired or changed value during the marriage or partnership, you have an interest in the property, or perhaps an obligation on the debt. If the property or debt was acquired prior to the marriage or partnership, it is up the court to do what is just and equitable.

​As with all things related to your dissolution, you may not need a lawyer, but it often depends on how straightforward your situation is. If you have anything of value, it is always a good idea to at least consult with a lawyer. You may not need to hire a lawyer to represent you on your entire case. You may be able to address your concerns by hiring a lawyer to help you with just the property piece of your case.

​Once a dissolution is filed, a statutory restraining order regarding assets goes into effect which orders both spouses/partners to only spend money on normal daily life needs. If there is proof that a party is not obeying the order, you can obtain court assisted relief. To get this relief you may need to file for temporary orders. This process may be difficult and it may make sense for you to seek advice from a lawyer.

​The Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a complicated document that addresses many facets of the distribution of retirement accounts and pension plans. There are various options in how accounts like these can be divided and most account holders (employers) or pension plans will only accept specific language that has been approved by the court in a well-crafted QDRO.

​It is possible to obtain an Order requiring the spouse or partner to pay temporary support. You may need a lawyer to assist you with this request.

​The court orders or the parties agree on how retirement accounts should be divided. Thereafter, you must have a special order and judgment prepared called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and submit it to the court. For example, if there is a 401(k) account and it is divided and each receives one half, the QDRO would essentially separate it into two accounts one for each. Or if there is a pension, the QDRO separates the rights to the pension at a given moment in time.

Property & Debt Division - Law & Trial Preparation