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Oregon Court of Appeals


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Herald and Steadman

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 04-24-2013
Case #: A146603
Haselton, C.J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; and Rasmussen, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A146603.pdf

Family Law: Under ORS 107.105(1)(f), division of marital property at divorce must be just and proper manner in all the circumstances.

Husband and Wife were married from 1989 to 2010. Both were employed during the marriage. Wife participated in the federal Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Due to this participation, Wife did not accumulate social security benefits. In a marital dissolution a trial court may determine what portion of the parties’ property is “marital property” subject to distribution. As a matter of federal policy, social security benefits are not subject to equitable distribution. The trial court determined the amount of social security Wife would have accrued and reduced that amount from her CSRS annuity and then divided the remainder as marital property. Husband contends that the trial court’s distribution method was erroneous and he was entitled to half of Wife’s entire CSRS. ORS 107.105(1)(f) mandates that the division of marital property be "just and proper in all the circumstances." It would be unjust for Husband to receive full social security benefits and to share Wife’s full CSRS benefits, while the Wife is prohibited from sharing in Husband’s social security benefits. The Court held that because the lower court did not use Husband’s social security in the distribution of property, and instead used hypothetical social security benefits that Wife would have accrued, the lower court did not err in the subsequent distribution of property.  Affirmed.