It is never easy to go through a divorce in Franklin County, and if you do not take the time to educate yourself about the laws relating to child custody, financial support and property division, then you could inadvertently find yourself with an unfair settlement. One of the mistakes that many spouses make is failing to understand how marital property division works. In order to ensure that you receive a fair settlement, it is a good idea to understand what is considered marital property, how that property is valued and divided in Ohio.
Marital property vs. non-marital property
According to the Ohio Bar Association, marital property is any property or assets that were acquired during the marriage. Most people understand this to mean the marital home, the contents of joint bank accounts, furnishings and even vehicles. However, there are many other assets that could be considered part of the marital estate, including:
- Retirement plans
- Tax refunds
- Insurance policies – life and long-term disability
There are some exceptions when it comes to determining what assets may be considered marital property. For example, if you received an expensive piece of jewelry or even a car as a gift from your spouse, that could be counted as personal property. Other personal property includes inheritances, settlements from certain kinds of legal cases, and any property that was purchased before the marriage began and that remained in your name only.
Splitting property and assets
Once you determine what should be included on your inventory of marital property, then you should learn how it can be divided. Ohio is considered an equitable property state and this can result in a division that is less than half, or more than half, of the marital property because more than just the property is taken into consideration. Other factors the court will look at when determining how marital property is divided include:
- The length of the marriage
- The financial situation of you and your spouse
- Contribution to the marriage by each partner
- The ability to support oneself
In the event that you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement, then the agreement is usually adhered to unless you can prove that you were coerced into signing it or that your rights were violated in some way.
Assigning value to property
Before property can be accurately divided, it must be assigned a monetary value. Forbes recommends using an independent appraiser with experience to ensure that the valuation is accurate. The appraiser will use a single date to determine the property value. Usually that date is your official date of separation or it can be a date that you and your spouse agree on.
Because property division between spouses can be quite complicated in today’s modern world, you should meet with an experienced attorney in your area to protect your rights.