Cleveland Property Division Lawyers
Equitable Property Division Solutions for Cleveland Residents
Property division is often one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. Deciding how to distribute marital assets can be incredibly challenging, particularly when the parties disagree, or those assets hold significant value.
The outcome of your property division case could impact your financial stability for the rest of your life. At Laubacher & Co., our family lawyers will work with you to protect your rights and fight for an equitable outcome in your case.
How Does Property Division Work in Ohio?
The court will usually distribute your property according to signed Separation Agreement. This contract details your rights and divides up your property. It may also address spousal support and alimony.
TA Separation Agreement is vital to allocate any joint debts, marital property, and/or parental rights and responsibilities. This will establish which party keeps which asset, what each party is responsible for paying, and how time with your children will be determined while your divorce is pending. This will also establish the date of separation and facilitate your divorce proceedings.
If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on property division, the court will identify the marital assets, may assign a monetary value to your assets and debts, and then equitably distribute them.
The court considers the following factors for the distribution:
- How long you were married;
- Each spouse's assets and liabilities;
- The desirability of awarding a family home or the right to live in the house for reasonable periods of time to the spouse who has custody of any children of the marriage;
- Liquidity of the property that will be distributed;
- Economic desirability of retaining any asset interest or intact property;
- Tax consequences;
- Applicable sales costs;
- Division or disbursement of any property following a separation agreement entered into voluntarily, and;
- Other factors the court finds relevant.
Property division is often one of the most complicated aspects of a divorce, in part because of the amount of time the process can take.
For example, as part of property division, you must provide the court with an exhaustive inventory of all of the personal and marital assets and liabilities you own. Collecting that information can take a significant amount of time.
Property division also has the potential to dramatically impact your life long-term. For example, whether you get to keep the marital home or not post-divorce could significantly change your finances. You might move into a different tax bracket post-divorce if there was an earning discrepancy between you and your partner. Finally, purchasing new assets in the wake of a property division case can be costly.
Division of Debts and Business Assets in a Divorce
When the marital assets include unique debts or assets, courts may need to ask additional questions in order to divide these items in a fair manner.
How Will a Court Divide Credit Card Debt?
Any debt that is acquired during the marriage is usually divided equally, so long as that debt was incurred for marital expenses. That is, if a divorcing couple has a large amount of credit card debt because they borrowed to purchase things for the marriage (food, clothing, shelter, etc.), a court will typically divide that total debt equally between the two parties. However, if the debts were incurred because of one party’s destructive habits (such as gambling, alcoholism, online dating, etc.), a court may assign those debts to the person who created them.
How Will a Court Divide a Family Business?
A court divides a family business by first considering whether the business was created before or after the marriage. If a business was created after the parties were married, that business is a marital asset and the value of the business will be divided between the parties. If the business was created before the marriage, the court will need to evaluate what increase or decrease in the value of the business that occurred during the marriage. This is accomplished through the use of expert witnesses and the process called “discovery,” which requires divorcing parties to exchange certain information. This increase or decrease will then be split between the parties.
A family business that was created prior to the marriage will usually remain in the possession of the party that created it after the divorce. Business owners can also create a prenuptial agreement prior to marrying in order to protect their business. A valid prenuptial agreement can direct a court during a divorce on how assets like businesses are to be handled during a divorce.
How Will a Court Treat an Inheritance?
Inheritances are usually awarded to the individual who inherited the property or money. Problems arise, however, when inheritances become commingled with marital assets. Suppose that a spouse inherits $100,000 from a relative. So long as that $100,000 is kept in a separate account and not used for marital needs (like food, a home, etc.), the court will award the inheritance to the spouse that inherited it. But if the inheritance is commingled with marital funds (by placing them in a joint bank account from which the couple pays its bills, for instance), then it becomes more difficult for the person who inherited the funds to argue the entire amount of the inheritance should be awarded to him or her in a divorce.
The assistance of an attorney can help in protecting those assets that are important to you and ensuring that debts and obligations are properly divided between the parties. If you are considering a divorce or are involved in a divorce and are concerned with how marital assets will be divided, contact us for a consultation at (440) 336-8687.