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Figuring out asset division when going through a divorce

You and your spouse have worked hard to get where you are. Your financial picture may not be perfect, but you have a home, savings and retirement funds. On the flip side, you also have some debt in the form of a mortgage, a car payment and some credit card debt. You've decided to get a divorce and are wondering what property you'll get to keep. In Ohio, any shared property -- whether it is a positive or negative asset -- is marital property and subject to division.  

What property is separate? How exactly does property distribution work? Do I have a say in the matter?

Separate property

Like all other states, Ohio residents who enter their marriages with certain property or acquire certain assets during the marriage may be able to keep them as separate property. A few examples of assets that may not be subject to division in divorce proceedings include:

  • Inheritances
  • Real estate owned by one spouse prior to getting married
  • Interest or income gains from separately owned property
  • Gifts given during the marriage
  • Assets designated as personal property in a pre- or postnuptial agreement

The only time any of these assets may qualify as marital property is if there is proof that they commingled with marital assets in some way.

Property distribution

Ohio is an equitable distribution state. This means that property division must occur in a way that allows each party to walk away with a fair share of marital assets. For example, if your spouse wishes to keep the marital home, which is generally a significant asset, he or she may have to give up something -- such as rights to money in your retirement fund. In other words, there will have to be a trade-off of sorts. 

One must also address debts during the property division phase of divorce. Each party is likely to be responsible for a portion of the debts owed.

Who decides who gets what?

Some couples are able to come to property division terms by talking things out privately or going through the mediation process. Those who can do this most certainly get a say in the ultimate division of the property. If you and your spouse cannot come to agreeable terms, the issue will go to court and the final decision left to a judge. Obviously, there is reason to try and figure it out, if at all possible, so that a judge does not have the final say. 

Figuring out asset division when going through a divorce can be a challenge. With help, though, it is possible to reach a final settlement that is fair for everyone.

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