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What to expect from the property division process

Ohio couples facing a divorce have much to consider and decide on. The process of splitting one household into two can be complex and can often lead to disagreement or dissatisfaction with the outcome.

The property and asset division process is one that can have substantial effects on the life of each spouse after the divorce. As an equitable distribution state, Ohio courts split marital property, assets and debts equitably, or fairly, among the spouses. When you face a divorce, what should you expect from the property division process?

What does equitable mean?

Rather than simply dividing all property and assets in two, courts determine how to fairly split marital property. Marital property means all property, assets and debts owned or acquired by the couple throughout the marriage. This includes real estate like your marital home, personal property, income, retirement benefits and more.

Courts consider several factors in dividing marital property:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Assets and liabilities of both spouses
  • The appeal of retaining ownership of the marital home or other significant assets
  • Tax consequences of property division
  • The terms of a prenuptial agreement, if applicable
  • Any other factors deemed relevant by the court

If one spouse expresses interest in retaining ownership of significant assets like the family home, the court will typically consider factors like which spouse has custody of the children. Other factors may also influence the property division process. For example, if one spouse committed financial misconduct, the court may favor the needs of the other spouse.

Defining separate property

Separate property includes anything owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, as well as anything inherited by or given to one spouse during the marriage. This can include retirement benefits earned before marriage, a home purchased before marriage in one spouse’s name, an inheritance acquired during the marriage, a personal injury award acquired during the marriage and more.

Separate property can only remain separate if it is not commingled with marital property. To prove that property and assets are separate, you must provide proof that the assets are your own.

The property division process can vary greatly from couple to couple. Discuss your situation with an attorney to learn more on what to expect.

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