Value of Homemaking in Divorces (Hixson v Hixson)

It is by now well known that a homemaker has a presumption of equal contribution with respect to a couple’s marital assets.  However, this presumption can be overcome by evidence showing that the bread winning spouse contributed more to the acquisition of the asset.  This doesn’t mean that the homemaker either gets half or nothing.  The court needs to decide what is fair under the circumstances of the case.  In Hixson v Hixson, 235 Or App___ (May 5, 2010) the homemaker was found not to have contributed equally toward the acquisition of a veterinary clinic.  However, she was nonetheless granted a half interest  because she had been a homemaker over the course of the nine years of marital cohabitation, she had a low earning potential, and was granted a relatively brief duration of spousal support (stepped down maintenance spousal support for five years.)

This case shows how unpredictable domestic relations decisions can be.  The wife had already received consideration for her homemaking through receipt of spousal support.  Then because support would be for too brief a time for the wife to become self-sufficient, a time that the court itself approved of, she was also granted a substantial share of the equity in the husband’s business.

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