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What is counted as separate property in an Ohio divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2023 | Family Law |

People in Ohio who have significant assets and are going through a divorce will inevitably think about how property will be divided. Since Ohio is an equitable distribution state, the court’s objective is to split the property fairly. That might not mean it is divided in half.

Before the property can be divided, it needs to be properly classified as to whether it is marital property or separate property. This is a fundamental distinction as separate property will generally belong to one spouse. For these cases – particularly ones in which items are of substantial value – it is imperative to properly identify these properties.

Recognize separate property when getting divorced

The law differentiates between separate and marital property. If one person in the marriage received property as part of an inheritance, it is theirs and not subject to property division. That can include anything they might have gotten. Perhaps they received a sum of money or family heirlooms. These can be valuable, but will not be shared in the divorce.

People will inevitably own items before they get married. This can be real or personal property or interest in real or personal property. Hypothetically, if the home the couple lived in belonged to one party before they were married, then it could still be theirs. Any payments that were shared for its purchase, upkeep or maintenance might be up for dispute since it took place after the marriage.

Passive income and appreciation is also separate property if it was acquired by one spouse during the marriage. If a person owned a collectible and it grew in value, then that belongs to them. Some couples have a prenuptial agreement or an antenuptial agreement that dictates how property will be divided. If it is valid, it will be followed.

Gifts that a spouse received after the marriage will belong to that person if they can prove that it was given to them and them alone. A person who had a personal injury case and was compensated gets to keep that award or settlement as separate property.

Know how to differentiate property in a divorce

These cases can be complicated with the parties disagreeing over who will receive what. There can even be dispute as to how the property itself will be categorized. People who were fortunate enough to own a business, have a good job, a nice home, automobiles, jewelry, collectibles, a vacation property, various bank accounts, investments and more will have a tougher time coming to an agreement about their property division.

From the start, having an idea as to how to achieve the objectives of keeping certain items and letting others go can be difficult. Knowing what counts as separate property is just one part of the process. Whether it is a case that is rife with contentious disagreement or one in which the couple is on better terms, knowing the difference between separate and marital property is a positive start. This can be helpful with determining how to move forward and reaching a successful result.