Ask a Divorce Lawyer: How Do You Split Property During a Divorce?

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One of the toughest parts of filing for divorce is the division of shared marital assets and property. Because assets and property are related to the financial welfare of each spouse, it can be a point of contention for many people seeking a divorce. You will likely require advice from a divorce lawyer who has expert knowledge about property division for Ohio divorces.

Ask a Divorce Lawyer: How Do You Split Property During a Divorce?

When you first file for divorce, one of your first questions for a women’s divorce attorney in Westerville may be about property division. For many couples, dividing property and assets is a crucial pain point during a divorce, especially couples who have been married for a long time and have many shared marital properties.

In Ohio, the goal of a divorce is to split property and assets equitably. An equitable division doesn’t necessarily mean that the split of assets is 50/50. Rather, for an equitable division, the split of a property will be customized so that each spouse has a fair division of property. Essentially, factors will be considered to determine how much each spouse deserves a percentage of any given property, and then the court will formally divide that property between the spouses.

What Can Equitable Division Look Like?

An equal division of property isn’t necessarily equitable. In equitable property division, the goal is to give each spouse a fair percentage of property based on their personal contribution to the property, economic factors, and tax consequences for each spouse. For many, this can mean that the equitable division of property and assets can be 30/70, 40/60, 10/90, or any other appropriate calculation.

Ohio family courts seek to divide property and assets in such a way that a lower-earning spouse will not be over-burdened financially, and so that a spouse who originally obtained the property will not have to share the value of the property under certain circumstances.

Marital Property and Separate Property

In Ohio, property falls under two categories: marital property and separate property. In general, separate property will be excluded from the division of property and assets during a divorce because the separate property is usually obtained before the marriage. Some examples of separate property include passive income, property that is excluded in a prenuptial agreement, a gift given to one spouse during the marriage, or inheritance.

Marital property, on the other hand, is usually property and assets that are obtained by both spouses during the marriage. Some examples of marital property can include property owned by both spouses, property interest, retirement accounts, or other major assets where both spouses are considered equal owners. The most common types of marital property divided during a divorce can include primary and secondary residences, vehicles, and bank accounts.

Property Valuation and Appraisal

An important component of property division is correctly valuing assets that are being divided. As part of the financial disclosures in your divorce paperwork, shared and separate property will need to be valued. If spouses cannot agree on the value of the shared property, the court will independently appraise the value of the asset so that an equitable division can be calculated.

Financial Assets and Accounts

Certain financial assets and accounts are almost always included for equitable division, particularly for longer marriages. For example, retirement accounts, IRAs, pension funds, and other shared bank accounts are typically considered marital property since one spouse is often claimed as a beneficiary. The value of the financial accounts will be assessed by the court to determine equitable division.

What Factors Influence Equitable Distribution?

Many factors influence Ohio courts regarding the equitable distribution of marital assets. Factors may include the length of the marriage, the economic stability of each spouse, tax consequences, and the desirability of owning certain assets. For example, a spouse who is awarded the primary custodianship of children will likely also be awarded the family home in equitable distribution for the welfare of the child.

Can Property Be Divided During Mediation?

Property can be divided during mediation in Ohio. However, completely dividing marital assets and properties during mediation may be more difficult if spouses cannot agree on the value of the marital property. In this case, the mediation process may have to be discontinued and the court will need to calculate the division of all property and assets.

One of the most challenging aspects of filing for divorce is the division of any shared property or assets. In Ohio, the goal is to reach an equitable division of shared property that is fair for both spouses. Sometimes, factors related to other aspects of your divorce, such as child custody, will influence the equitable vision of property and assets. Other factors that can influence property division during an Ohio divorce can include the length of the marriage, the income parity between spouses, and prenuptial agreements. 

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