Property Division: October 2008 Archives

October 16, 2008

Oregon Wife Wins Right to Dispose of Frozen Embryos

Following a general trend in an emerging area of divorce law, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled on October 8 that a divorced wife has the right to dispose of frozen embryos that she and her ex-husband created during their marriage.

The couple's agreement with the facility storing their embryos designated the wife as the person with the sole legal right to make decisions about them. The appeals court held that the agreement was binding on the divorcing husband and wife, and ordered that the embryos be destroyed at the wife's election. The court rejected the husband's argument that the embryos were alive, and followed other courts in finding that one spouse does not have the right to impose parental obligations on the other.

A blog post at says that there are more than 100,000 stored embryos across the country, and I agree with the assessment in that article that this issue is going to keep coming up in divorces as more and more couples use alternative reproductive technology to have children.

October 13, 2008

Dividing Property Equally -- Taking it to the Extreme

Think your divorce settlement divides everything equally? You've got nothing on the Cambodian couple who literally divided their property in half by sawing their house in two, right down the middle. The wife is keeping the half that's staying on their land, and the husband hauled away his half, mostly in the form of debris and materials. You can see a video of the result here.

This reminds me of the Brooklyn couple who both refused to move out of their home during their divorce, and ended up living in separate parts of the house after a judge ordered them to put up a wall.

Here's hoping your spirit of compromise was a little better-developed than that of these folks, who have taken the idea of equal division of property to the next level.

October 2, 2008

Divorce and the Military


There are over a million active duty service members in the U.S. Armed Forces today, many serving in high-stress areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps surprisingly, the rate of divorce generally among service members is comparable to that in the general population (although there was a sharp increase between 2001 and 2004, a period when deployments increased significantly). But within the military, women divorce at nearly twice the rate of men. There's lots of speculation about why in this article at, but no solid answers.

Numbers aside, the reality is that divorce raises special issues for military spouses in almost every aspect of the divorce process, including calculating support, dividing property, establishing a parenting plan, and dealing with retirement and insurance benefits. The Armed Services Legal Assistance Office provides some help for military families going through divorce, and there are websites that offer free legal information as well. Also check out Nolo's Essential Guide to Divorce -- the updated 2nd Edition has a new chapter on military divorce.