Divorce – Case Law Update – Property Division

free-vector-scales-of-justice_099380_Scales_of_justiceOn July 25, 2015, the Oregon Court of Appeals published an opinion relating to the division of marital property.  In Fine and Fine, 272 Or App 307 (2015), several pieces of real estate and one business were divided.  The Court of Appeals found error in two facets the trial court’s division of assets.

First, the trial court failed to account for roughly $140,000 in withdrawals Wife made from a joint account immediately before the parties separated and about two years before trial.  The trial court found that Wife “did not account for her disposition of these funds,” but noted that Wife had been maintaining the marital residence during the separation.  The mortgage, insurance, and taxes for the marital residence during the separation totaled about $49,000, but the remainder of the funds were unaccounted for.  Husband asked that he be reimbursed for half of the funds withdrawn, but the trial court denied the request.  The Court of Appeals sent the issue of the disposition of those funds back to the trial court, finding that there was no evidence to support the trial court’s findings that all of the funds were used to maintain the marital residence.

In it’s second finding of error, the Court of Appeals examined $165,000 that was paid from a joint account during the marriage toward debts of Wife’s business, which was awarded to Wife in the dissolution.  Husband argued that he should be reimbursed for half of joint funds used to pay the business debt.  The trial court denied the request, but the Court of Appeals disagreed, remanding to the trial court for reconsideration of the award of the business to Wife without any compensation to Husband.