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What is marital property and how is it divided in Ohio?

Perhaps the most widespread misconception about property division during a divorce is that half of everything you own will go to your spouse. First, you will not lose half of everything you own. In addition, your share may not necessarily equal your spouse’s.

Ohio follows an equitable distribution approach when divided assets during a divorce. Before getting into the specifics of that, it helps to understand what assets will be up for division during the divorce, commonly known as marital property.

Broadly put, marital assets consist of property acquired during the marriage or by using marital funds. It includes assets like the family home, investments, retirement accounts and savings. Anything you owned before the marriage, like an inheritance, is considered separate property and is unaffected by the divorce.

How equitable distribution works

While an equal division between the spouses is possible, the court must ensure that it’s in the interests of equity and fairness. That means the marital assets and debts are split fairly (not necessarily evenly). Some of the things the court will review include the following:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse (separate assets and liabilities)
  • The liquidity of the asset in question
  • The tax implication of the divorce on each spouse
  • Any existing legal agreement like a prenup or postnup
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant

The judge will assign each spouse their share of marital property after consideration of these and other factors.

Issues that may arise during property division

Property division during a divorce is often a contentious matter. For example, there may be instances where assets get mixed up, and it is unclear whether they are marital or separate. Alternatively, a spouse may hide an asset or dissipate marital funds in anticipation of the divorce.

Given that your financial security is at stake, it is crucial to understand what you need to do to protect your interests during this critical phase of your divorce.