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You never get married expecting divorce. Now that it’s happening, it’s common to feel unprepared. Ending a marriage can be a long and complicated process. Fortunately, many of the underlying principles for divorce in the Buckeye State are simple enough to make decisions just and evident to the parties involved.

Dividing property, as well as deciding what property must be divided, is often the most contentious issue for separating spouses. It often takes tension out of the equation when spouses familiarize themselves with Ohio’s guidelines for property division.

What exactly is marital property?

This is term we apply to all property acquired by two people during their marriage. This includes real estate, valuable objects, furniture and other assets. Financial instruments, such as investments and retirement accounts, may also be considered marital property.

How is property division decided?

Spouses have the first opportunity to decide division, either through their lawyers or mediation. If a property division case has to go to court, an Ohio judge presiding over the court is empowered to make final decisions.

How does a judge make a decision?

Ohio uses the “equitable distribution” rule as a guideline for property division. This is different from equal distribution because, although property is assumed to be divided equally, a spouse can make an argument that he or she worked harder or invested more in an asset. This may earn that spouse a greater share of the asset in the divorce.

Do I need a lawyer?

The court may recommend an attorney to ensure you have the best understanding of your rights and the best chance at an equitable share of marital property.

Source: FindLaw, “Ohio Marital Property Laws,” accessed May 15, 2018