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Be careful when timing a divorce based on financial factors

Sometimes ending a marriage is a decision Dayton spouses make based solely on emotional considerations. Other times, however, other factors have to be weighed carefully, particularly financial ones. Some may base the timing of the actual divorce filing around financial milestones, even after they've decided in their hearts to seek a divorce. However, it is important to make sure those considerations are fully understood.

For example, back in the 1990s, a wife in another state won a lottery jackpot worth over $1 million. She kept the winnings a secret from her husband, and filed divorce less than two weeks later. Two years after the divorce, however, he learned the truth and filed a lawsuit against his ex-wife for hiding the money during property division. The judge didn't just award the ex-husband half of the winnings: he awarded him the entire sum.

On the other hand, take an example in which one partner is getting ready to file for a divorce, but knows the other spouse will soon be inheriting a sum of money. The partner may want to wait until after the inheritance arrives, in order to include it in property division. However, because Ohio law considers an inheritance as separate property, the funds would at least need to be commingled (perhaps by being used to pay off a mortgage or for renovations on a jointly-owned home) in order to be included in property division.

The law, it should be understood, is not likely to turn a blind eye to a spouse's efforts to time a divorce opportunistically. Even in the inheritance example, if the funds can be traced back to the inheritance after they were spent, a judge may still rule that the inheritance was separate property. So, one must take care when making decisions regarding the timing of a divorce, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises down the line and ensure that property division plays out as anticipated.

Source: MarketWatch, "My husband inherited money - should I divorce him after he pays off our mortgage?," Quentin Fottrell, March 26, 2018

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