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Wolfe v. Wolfe

Oregon Court of Appeals
273 P.3d 915 (2012)


Facts

Douglas Wolfe (plaintiff) and Gillian Wolfe (defendant) married in 1975. When they had children, Gillian stopped working as a nurse practitioner and ran the family farm. When Douglas opened his own ophthalmology practice, Gillian managed it. Douglas drew a salary, but Gillian did not, purportedly for tax reasons. Douglas had a family trust set up by his grandfather when Douglas was a child that was managed by his father and financial advisors. Douglas occasionally withdrew money, to buy the farm and maximize the couple’s yearly retirement contributions, but never deposited salary into those accounts. Douglas cancelled his life insurance, reasoning his wife and children would get his trust if he died. When they separated some 30 years later, Douglas sold his practice, but continued working part-time for $11,000 monthly. Gillian worked as bookkeeper for $2,300 monthly. Both intended to retire soon. When the couple divorced, their assets totaled $5 million, and the trust accounts had reached $10.3 million. The court awarded Gillian $2.6 million, plus alimony. It awarded Douglas $2.6 million, plus the $10.3 million in trust assets as his separate property. Gillian appealed, arguing that the trust interest was marital property to which she had contributed equally as a homemaker and by managing Douglas’s practice, and that equitable division required leaving the marriage with equal means. Gillian also requested additional alimony depending on the division of assets.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Haselton, J.)

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