Identifying the differences between marital and separate property

People who are going through a divorce should understand the difference between separate and marital property.

Divorce in Ohio can be somewhat complicated, especially when it comes to separating property that the couple has amassed during the course of a marriage. People grow attached to certain items, and it can be difficult to determine who is entitled to what in the divorce settlement. Ohio is an equitable distribution of property state, meaning that the judge divides marital property according to what he or she deems fair and equitable. Not all property is eligible for division, however, and couples should understand the differences between marital and separate property in order to ensure they receive what they are entitled to in the settlement.

Marital property

Shared property consists of more than the family home, vehicles, furniture and bank account. There are some items that are less commonly regarded as marital, yet still divisible in a divorce. These include the following:

· Expensive collections, such as art, classic cars, horses, antiques and coins.

· 401k plans, pension plans and stock options that were acquired during the marriage.

· Memberships to country clubs, golf courses and other exclusive organizations.

· Any gifts given to one another during the marriage.

· Intellectual property, such as copyrights, trademarks, patents and royalty rights.

· Lottery ticket winnings.

Pets are also considered marital property, and primary custody may be awarded to either party in the decree.

What is separate property?

Separate property traditionally stays with the original owner. For example, if a spouse owned the title to a property prior to the marriage, and kept his or her name as the sole owner on the title, that person may retain ownership of the property. However, if the owner adds his or her spouse to the title, the property could become marital and eligible for division in a divorce.

Other types of separate property include gifts that were given to either spouse by a third party before, during, or after the divorce. Inheritance money, workers' compensation benefits or money awarded to someone in a personal injury judgement. If the separate assets are deposited into a joint bank account shared with the spouse, however, the money may be considered marital.

Simplifying an overwhelming situation

There are often strong emotions involved when people go through the divorce process. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney may be able to answer questions and help you explore your legal options. With all of the difficult decisions that must be made during this hard time, an Ohio personal injury attorney may be extremely helpful.