Ohio property division rules may seem simple on the surface. However, the unique facts of each situation can raise many questions, some of which can involve a high level of complexity.
Ohio law subscribes to the equitable division principle. This means courts try to divide property on the basis of fairness rather than enforcing a strict 50-50 split. In practice, equitable division often works out to equal division; however, certain factors can result in a different split.
Defining marital and separate property
In a divorce, only marital property is subject to division. Separate assets typically remain entirely with the spouse who owns them.
Most property either spouse acquires during marriage is marital, except for individual gifts, inheritances and personal injury awards for pain and suffering. Sometimes, determining the status of a particular asset can pose difficulties, as in a case where the spouses combine marital and separate funds to purchase one asset. Tracing separate funds can necessitate the involvement of financial experts. In some cases, courts consider that separate assets were commingled and thus have transformed into marital property.
Dividing marital assets unequally
One common reason courts may award one spouse a greater share of the marital assets is financial misconduct by the other spouse. Typically, this consists of purposely wasting or trying to hide marital funds. Gambling or spending marital funds on illegal activities can form the basis for an unequal award.
Aiming for solutions that work
Sometimes, ensuring an equal division can mean selling off all assets and splitting the proceeds. While this can simplify matters, there may exist some very good reasons why this approach would not work for a particular couple.
For example, selling the marital home can pose a problem when young children are involved, whose best interests may include being able to remain in their home. Nesting is one type of solution aimed at providing stability for the children. Likewise, many people would not see selling off a thriving business as an acceptable solution. In such cases, it can make more sense to have one spouse buy out the other's share or to give the other spouse a different asset of equivalent value.