Marriage involves the legal decision to combine one’s life with someone else’s, and divorce is the opposite. It is the intentional separation of two people’s personal lives, assets and financial obligations so that they can live effectively apart from each other.
During an Ohio divorce, issues related to the division of property and debts can lead to conflict and concern about someone’s future financial stability. If divorcing couples cannot fully resolve their differences via mediation and/or negotiation and require a judge’s review and input, the court will apply the state’s equitable distribution standard. The law requires that the spouses disclose their marital property so that the courts can divide it in a fair manner.
What assets are marital property for the purpose of dividing assets in an Ohio divorce?
Most earnings and assets from the marriage are marital assets
In most cases, couples will have to share the income that either spouse earned during the marriage and also whatever property they acquired. If one spouse invested some of their income in real property, the use of marital income to make that purchase will make those parcels of unimproved land marital property even though only one spouse’s name is technically on the deed. Spouses, therefore, have to disclose all of their major assets and financial obligations, even if they hold them only in their own name. Only what people can protect as separate property will typically be exempt from the asset division process in an Ohio divorce.
There are different kinds of separate property
Perhaps the separate property people understand the most are the assets that they owned prior to marriage. However, those are also among the most vulnerable separate assets, as married couples often commingle what they owned before marriage with marital property. Adding a spouse to a bank account or allowing them to contribute toward the maintenance of an asset may give them a partial claim to its value in the event of a divorce.
Gifts and inheritances are also typically separate property, although they are also vulnerable to mistakes that involve commingling. Finally, any assets that people set aside as separate property in a marital agreement, such as their retirement savings, will typically have protection from division of those assets in the event of a divorce.
With the exception of those three types of separate property, most assets will be classified as part of the marital estate and subject to division. Familiarizing oneself with the basics of Ohio divorce law is an important step when beginning to plan for a divorce.