Does fault ever play a role in asset division?

By Laura Schantz
May 17, 2017
Does fault ever play a role in asset division?

Both Oregon and Washington are no-fault divorce states, as are most states in the United States. There are just a couple states that allow fault. But when you talk about gambling and an affair, they’re actually two different things. Gambling is an addiction like drug abuse and other things like that, and typically if a spouse has that type of addiction and has gambled away money, there’s actually a case in Oregon where one of the spouses gambled away almost all the money, yet there was a little bit left and the other spouse said, “Can’t I keep this little bit that’s left since my spouse gambled away everything else?” The court decided no, that was the marriage you had. You had a marriage with a gambling spouse, and therefore, we’re going to divide what’s left 50-50. That’s the law about gambling.

An affair, the same thing. An affair is no-fault. It’s not going to mean you’re going to get any less of the marital property in either Oregon or Washington. But when you specifically ask the question “marital money to pay for an affair,” that would be something you could actually trace, the actual money that was used on somebody else, and you could say, “This money should’ve been spent on our family and you’re spending on the girlfriend.” That’s potentially some money that could come back to you. That’s different than saying, “Because you’re at fault for having this affair, you’re not going to get 50% of the assets.” That would never happen.

Laura Schantz is a family law attorney and mediator practicing in Beaverton, Oregon. To learn more about Laura Schantz and her firm, Schantz Law P.C., visit

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May 17, 2017
Categories:  FAQs

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