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Ohio Property Division FAQ

When you get married, you never imagined that one day you will be deciding how your property will be divided. You need an attorney who will help you determine what is fair. To discuss your case with one of the experienced property division attorneys at Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson, call our Columbus office today at 380-217-3322 or fill out our contact form. We can help you feel confident about your future. We have helped clients throughout Ohio.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions that our lawyers receive.

What is the difference between marital property and separate property?

Marital property is all the property acquired during the marriage, except for gifts and inheritances. This includes retirement benefits, property and financial assets. When facing a divorce, both spouses are entitled to walk away with some portion of these things. Separate property is anything acquired by one spouse prior to the date of marriage or by gift or inheritance during the marriage.

Is Ohio a community property state?

We are NOT a community property state. This means that all property is not automatically divided 50/50 in the divorce. Instead, separate property is not considered, and the standard is fairness.

What does the court look at when dividing property?

There are a number of factors that are considered. The most common things are: what is marital property versus separate property, whether one party or the other wants particular assets and the effect of division on the value of the asset.

What if we signed a prenuptial agreement?

The goal of a prenuptial agreement is to avoid any disagreement over assets when facing divorce. A prenup that contains a provision for property division usually takes precedence over any current laws. This is because it was agreed upon and tends to specifically list what property would go to each spouse. It is often difficult to change what is stated in the agreement.

How are retirement assets divided in a divorce?

Not all retirement accounts divide in the same way. Retirement accounts that are not IRAs will need to go through the Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO) process. IRAs will instead go through a direct transfer process to divide the contents of the account.

Government pensions such as OPERS, STRS, SERS, Police and Fire, FERS and military retirement pensions are divided by a Division of Property Order (DOPO), or similar type of order, which is a preset form with check boxes for the allowed options and language that cannot be modified or removed.

How does a QDRO work in Ohio?

A QDRO is a court order that dictates how a non-IRA retirement account divides because of divorce. The contents of the benefit can go toward retirement, child support and alimony, or divide as marital property in the divorce.

If the word divorce is being used in my house, should I stop contributing to my 401(k)?

Any assets that a 401(k) acquires during a marriage will likely qualify as marital property, meaning it will probably be subject to asset division during the actual divorce. However, anything you add to your 401(k) after your divorce is solely your property. It may be possible to pause your 401(k) contributions until after your divorce, and catch up with the payments after things finalize. Consult with your 401(k) provider to confirm if this is possible.