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Marital Property Division
In Ohio, a couple’s marital assets are subject to “equitable distribution” in divorce. At Laubacher & Co., we help divorcing spouses make sure they receive their fair share and fight to protect coveted assets during the divorce process.
One of the most significant issues involved in getting a divorce is the matter of dividing the spouses’ shared property. Spouses are generally considered co-owners of any assets they acquire during their marriage; and, when their marriage ends, these “marital assets” must be divided as part of the divorce process.
The “Equitable Distribution” of Marital Assets
Under Ohio law, the process of dividing a couple’s marital assets is known as “equitable distribution.” Importantly, “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” While the law in some states starts with a presumption that each spouse should be entitled to half of the couple’s shared assets, this is not the case in Ohio. Instead, the question of what is “equitable” focuses on factors such as:
- The length of the marriage;
- The economic desirability of retaining marital assets as opposed to selling them (in which case the spouses would equitably split the proceeds of the sale);
- The desirability of allowing a custodial parent to remain in the family home; and,
- The tax consequences and the costs of selling marital assets.
For a complete list, read our Ohio Property Settlement FAQs.
Methods of Marital Property Division
When it comes to the method of dividing marital assets in a divorce, separating spouses have a number of different options available. While one option is to go to court and let a judge decide, this is usually not the best option for either spouse. Even when spouses disagree on who gets what, pursuing an amicable resolution allows them to control over the final outcome, and working through their differences without judicial intervention will typically be far less costly than going to court.
As alternatives to litigation, divorcing spouses can also seek to divide their marital assets through:
Typically, spouses will negotiate the division of their marital assets along with the other aspects of their divorce (such as spousal support and parenting rights). Each represented by their own attorneys, the spouses will work toward a division that they can both accept, and that will comply with the equitable distribution requirements of Ohio law.
If spouses are unable to reach a property settlement independently, they can enlist the help of a mediator. The mediator serves as a neutral third party (but not as a decision-maker), and helps the spouses explore additional opportunities for compromise.
A third option is to use the process known as collaborative law. Collaborative law is still an informal, negotiation-based process, but it involves added structure and a commitment from both spouses not to go to court. In addition to working with their attorneys, divorcing spouses can enlist the help of appraisers, accountants, and other outside experts to help them make better-informed decisions and arrive at a mutually-agreeable property distribution.
Getting a Divorce when your Spouse has all the Money
Additional Resources on Property Division
With decades of Ohio family law experience, Laubacher & Co. provides skilled and creative legal representation for divorcing spouses in the Cleveland area. For more information about what you can expect from the equitable distribution process, we encourage you to review these free resources prepared by our family law attorneys:
- What If I Want to Keep Certain Assets After My Divorce?
- What Happens to Retirement Accounts in an Ohio Divorce?
- What Happens to a Family Business in an Ohio Divorce?
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at Laubacher & Co.
If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys about your divorce, we encourage you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation. Evening and weekend appointments are available. To schedule a consultation at your convenience, call our Cleveland law offices at (855) 701-1004 or inquire online today.
Understanding Property Division
Q: What does equitable distribution mean?
A: Equitable refers to fair, not even or equal. The court takes many factors into account when determining how to divide marital property in a just manner. These include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s assets and liabilities, tax consequences, the liquidity of the property, costs of sale of property and other relevant criteria.
Q: What is marital property?
A: Property you and your spouse obtain after your marriage is typically viewed as marital property.
Q: What is separate property?
A: Generally speaking, separate property is the property you bring with you into the marriage. This belongs exclusively to the spouse who owned it prior to the marriage. However it is possible to convert separate property to marital property during the marriage. Personal injury awards or settlements, inheritances and gifts given to an individual spouse after the marriage are also examples of separate property.
Our attorneys can help you identify marital and separate property, and determine the factors that will affect the distribution of your assets and allocation of debts. Contact us online or by phone at 855-701-1004.