If you are thinking about pursuing a divorce, there are many aspects that you will have to consider. As you prepare to navigate this process, it’s natural to have several questions about what to expect. Dividing your assets and property can seem like a daunting task, so it’s important to understand the process a bit more so that you can prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Let’s take a closer look at how property is divided during divorce proceedings in Ohio.
Equitable Division is the Goal
In general, the Ohio court strives to ensure that both individuals walk away from their marriage with an equitable division of property. While many people assume that this means a fifty-fifty split, this isn’t always the most equitable division. In several cases, the court begins with a fifty-fifty split and then considers other factors to determine a division that fair to both parties. Ohio allows you and your spouse to negotiate the division yourselves, encouraging you to put together a separation agreement that articulates your wishes for the division of the assets. However, if you and your spouse are unable to communicate in a civil or productive manner, the court can step in and determine the equitable division for you.
Understanding Marital vs. Separate Property
Before you and your spouse begin to divide up your property and assets, you must first determine which property is considered marital property—meaning it will be divided up according to the terms of equitable division—and what is considered separate property. Marital property is defined as any property or asset you acquired over the course of your marriage, such as vacation homes or retirement benefits. Separate property includes any property you owned independently before you entered into marriage, or any gifts or inheritances you received while you were married. While it may be tempting to hide certain assets, such as a bank account or vacation home, from the court in order to “protect” these assets from being subject to division, this is considered fraudulent behavior. If your spouse or the court discovers that you failed to disclose certain assets, you risk receiving a reduced amount of marital property or be required to divide your separate property as well.
How the Property Division Process Works
First, the court will take a look at the value of all of your assets, including any debts, in order to determine an equal split. The court will likely also consider the length of your marriage, whether the custodial parent should have the right to remain in the family home, and other factors to ensure that both spouses walk away from their marriage with solid foundations. At this point, you and your spouse will have the opportunity to present your separation agreement to the court to share your thoughts on how you’d like your property to be divided between you and your spouse. Ultimately, the court aims to finalize your divorce with an equitable division that enables you both to move forward with the support you need.
To learn more about the division of property during your divorce, contact the dedicated and experienced divorce and family law attorneys at Garretson & Holcomb, LLC by calling (513) 863-6600 today.