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Property division: How do Ohio courts divide marital debts?

When divorce enters the picture, many spouses focus on what assets they will receive during property division. Neither person wants to feel as if they walked away from divorce without their fair share of the assets. Unfortunately, this leaves the area of debt division largely unaddressed.

It is wise for divorcing couples to make their own decisions on how to divide their debts and property. However, in many cases, it is simply not possible for couples to agree on property division matters. When this happens, a family court will have to make these financial decisions on behalf of the couple.

As you probably know, Ohio is an equitable distribution state. This means that courts try to divide assets fairly and equitably, but it does not always mean a 50-50 split. In most cases, courts decide how debts are distributed on a case-by-case basis. Typically, courts handle debt and asset division in the following ways:

  • Equally between both spouses
  • In proportion to the income of each spouse
  • According to which spouse caused or incurred the debt
  • According to the person who owns the account

It sounds like the courts can make the best decision on your behalf, right? Not necessarily. Divorcing couples can usually acquire the best debt and asset distribution outcome by coming to an agreement outside of the court. However, as stated above, coming to a property division agreement is notoriously difficult for couples in the middle of getting a divorce.

In some cases, an attorney can help with the process of dividing assets and debts. For example, your lawyer might be able to help you identify any separate, personal debts owed solely by your spouse. This could go far in protecting you from having to pay debts that you did not incur.

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