Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson
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Your name must be on the deed... and other property division myths

There exists a saying "money can't buy happiness." You have probably heard it, and you may agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. This does not negate the fact that you will still probably worry about your finances throughout your life - especially if you are considering filing for divorce.

You may be very anxious about the prospect of starting over with only a portion of the assets you acquired during the marriage. Your friends and family may prove to be the support system you need to get through a challenging time. While their advice may be well intended, it is not always accurate.

Following advice based on misinformation can not only cause unnecessary stress, but it can also lead to costly mistakes. What are some of the biggest myths about property division laws in Ohio?

  • Myth: Equitable always means 50 percent. Ohio is an equitable division state, which means that the court will determine a fair division. The court begins with the presumption that an even split is fair, but it has the authority to deviate based on your individual situation and needs.
  • Myth: Your name needs to be on the deed or title to property. Whether an asset is in your name, your spouse's name or both does not determine if it is separate or marital property.
  • Myth: If your spouse gets to keep the house, you have to move out right away. If you decide that your spouse will get the house in the divorce or it is considered separate property, the court can issue an order granting you the right to stay in the home for a reasonable period of time.
  • Myth: The court will not consider the value of a professional license or degree. If your spouse obtained a professional license or degree during your marriage, chances are that you made some sacrifices financially and personally. You don't get to walk away with the MD or JD attached to your name that opens doors and leads to bigger salaries. If the goal is equity, how is this fair? Ohio courts do not consider the license or degree an asset, thus it is not subject to property division. The court can consider the future value when determining spousal support.
  • Myth: DIY property settlements are guaranteed to save you money if you agree on the terms. Even if you agree on how to handle the house, the cars, the retirement accounts and everything else, you should still consult with an experienced divorce attorney. You could overlook important details and special rules that could cause big problems later.

Property division is extremely important and very complex. The best way to sort through the confusion is to get advice based on your individual situation from an experienced attorney as soon as possible. It can actually save you more time, money and hassle than you might think.

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