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How do courts in Ohio divide marital property?

When married couples in Ohio divorce, courts take an equitable distribution approach to divide marital property. Courts do not simply divide property straight down the middle in divorce proceedings. While courts may start with a 50/50 approach in evaluating how to divide assets, they will review a lot of information about a marriage and both spouses’ individual financial circumstances to determine what would be most fair and equitable.

The goal of equitable distribution laws is to separate property in a way that treats each spouse reasonably and will not cause significant losses or unjust gains. Here are some of the most important elements of equitable distribution that divorcing couples should familiarize themselves with.

What property will courts divide?

Only marital property is subject to distribution. For the most part, property that people bring into a marriage remains theirs. Also, gifts such as inheritances remain the property of the spouse who received them. However, the comingling of assets over the course of a marriage may convert them into marital property.

How do courts decide what’s fair?

Courts give a lot of consideration to the length of a marriage in distributing property. If a marriage was relatively brief, courts will let each party keep what they own individually. Courts will also weigh each spouse’s respective property and earnings so that they can mitigate financial hardship.

Ultimately, divorcing couples may find it helpful to have a mediation session before litigating how they will divide their property. In both mediation and formal hearings, spouses need to work constructively for a fair resolution.