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How do Ohio courts handle property division? (Part 1)

Who gets the house after the end of a marriage? Who gets the furniture, the family heirlooms or the retirement accounts? Property division can be one of the more challenging aspects of a divorce. Here in Ohio, state laws apply specifically to the process, and any residents considering or going through a divorce will find the information valuable.

Assuming that a divorcing couple didn't have a prenuptial agreement regarding any of their property, an Ohio court will look at all of the property acquired by both spouses during the course of the marriage as marital property and will seek to divide it between the partners in an equitable manner (typically by splitting it equally, as much as possible). The court will not look at certain marital property as belonging to one spouse or the other. For example, regardless of who contributed more to a retirement account during the marriage, the court would generally split those funds in half between the divorcing spouses.

Here we should pause to clarify what is understood by the phrase "during the course of the marriage." A marriage will almost always be considered to begin on the date of the wedding ceremony. While it will often be regarded as having ended on the date the court issues a final ruling in the divorce, in some situations it may be considered as having ended earlier - perhaps if the partners moved into separate residences and lived independently of each other for some time before beginning the divorce process.

We'll continue this discussion in a follow-up post with a look at some exceptions to the equitable division rule as well as non-marital assets that may be handled differently. The information is intended to be general in nature only and not as specific legal advice.

Source: Ohio State Bar Association, "Divorce Courts Divide Assets and Liabilities Equitably," accessed on Dec. 3, 2017

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