When you get married, you and your spouse join households and combine your finances. You share a residence and your income to provide a higher standard of living. Combining your assets also makes it easier for you to support any children you share.
When you divorce, disentangling your finances is often the hardest thing to do. Many couples will find that they simply do not agree about how to split up their property and will either need to go through mediation or through litigated court proceedings.
Whether you hope to negotiate the settlement or need to prepare for litigation, understanding the Ohio approach to property division is important to your future success.
What rule does Ohio use to split property?
If a couple cannot agree on terms to divide their assets and debts, a family law judge must then interpret state law and apply it to the couple’s shared property and outstanding debts.
Ohio family law statutes include an equitable distribution rule. A judge trying to divide a couple’s property needs to look at the inventory of the couple’s assets and their total debts to determine what is fair and reasonable.
To reach a fair solution, a judge must consider the circumstances of the marriage. What terms they set can vary dramatically depending on the length of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse and their current economic circumstances.
What property and debts do you have to share?
Judges have the authority to split all marital assets and income unless there is a marital agreement exempting certain assets from that process. The date of acquisition is what makes an asset or debt marital property. Anything you earn or purchase during marriage is part of your marital estate, which means the judge has the authority to split it.
What you owned before marriage and what you purchase with those assets can sometimes remain your separate property if you don’t combine those assets with marital property or give your spouse access to them. The same is often true of inherited property. Almost anything you’ve obtained during the marriage could be vulnerable to division. Understanding what the courts will split and how can help you plan for your upcoming divorce.