When a couple divorces, the court will divide their marital property equitably. Below, you'll find some answers to frequently asked questions about Ohio property division. For all of our articles about divorce in Ohio, see our Ohio Divorce and Family Law page.
Each spouse is considered to have contributed equally to the production and acquisition of "marital property." Therefore, Ohio law requires that marital property (defined below) must be divided equally, unless such a division would be inequitable. In such a situation, the court must divide the property equitably instead of equally.
"Marital property" means, all of the following:
Marital property does not include either spouse's separate property, as described below.
"During the marriage" means the period of time from the date of the marriage through the date of the final hearing in an action for divorce or in an action for legal separation. However, if the court determines that using either or both of these dates would be inequitable, the court may select dates that it considers equitable in determining marital property. In that case, "during the marriage" means the period of time between the dates selected by the court.
Separate property is property that is not marital property, but is instead owned separately by either spouse. It includes any real or personal property (or any interest in such property) that falls into these categories:
Separate property remains separate, even if it is mingled with another type of property (such as marital property), unless the separate property is not traceable back to its source.
In dividing marital property and deciding whether to make a distributive award (money one spouse pays to the other in lieu of property, if dividing the actual property would be too difficult or undesirable), the court must consider all of the following factors:
Obviously, some assets have a readily ascertainable value, such as a bank account, publicly traded stock, and other liquid assets. If the parties can not agree on the value of other assets, there must be a determination of the value in order for the court to be able to make an informed determination. The value of assets such as homes, cars, jewelry, and so on, can be determined by obtaining appraisals from qualified experts. The value of pensions and retirement accounts may also be determined from an evaluation. Assets such as the value of a business can be difficult to properly value. In those situations, it is usually necessary to retain the services of accountants and other experts to do financial evaluations. This process can often be costly and time consuming. Unless the parties agree to accept the value determined by one expert, the court will have to take evidence and testimony and make a determination based upon the evidence as to the value of the property.
No. Although other states have ruled otherwise, Ohio has determined that a professional license or degree is not an asset subject to division. The future value of a professional degree or license earned during the marriage is, however, a factor to be considered by the court when making a determination with regard to spousal support.
The retirement benefits of the spouses, including IRA's, 401-K plans, pensions, deferred compensation, etc. are considered marital property and subject to division by the court to the extent that they were acquired by either or both of the spouses during the marriage.