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How is property divided in Ohio?

Ohio residents who are considering divorce may be interested in how marital property is divided. Ohio follows the principle of equitable distribution, and property acquired between the date the parties were married until they legally separated or divorced is considered marital property.

Marital property is different from separate property. Separate property is that which is owned by a spouse before the marriage commences. Inheritances received by one spouse, real property, stocks and bonds and other assets acquired before marriage are considered separate and not subject to division. In addition, a gift or inheritance a spouse receives while married that is intended only for that person or a personal injury award may be considered separate property. However, if the separate property is placed in a joint account or the funds used for joint endeavors, the amount that is commingled or spent may be considered marital property.

Marital property available for distribution during a divorce includes retirement benefits, real property and interest that may have accrued on real estate or other assets personally owned by either spouse during marriage. Income earned by both spouses while married is considered marital property.

When a marriage ends, equitable distribution allows a court to divide property in a manner that it deems fair, but not necessarily equal. This assumes that the couple did not have a valid and enforceable prenuptial agreement and have been unable to come to an accord on these matters. A family law attorney may assist a client who is going through a divorce in negotiating a comprehensive settlement. However, there are times when this is not possible, and the court will then make the final decision.Source: Ohio Laws and Rules, 'Equitable division of marital and separate property - distributive award," 2010

Source: Findlaw, "Ohio Marital Property Laws", November 26, 2014

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