Like many states in the country, Ohio recognizes equitable distribution when it comes to dividing up marital property in a divorce. States using this approach to asset division assume that both spouses equally contributed to acquiring or producing the shared property.

One of the first steps in dividing up property using this approach is for a judge to make a determination as to which assets belong to one spouse and then also to the couple. It’s only once a proper accounting of all assets has been made that a judge can equitably divide all shared property among the spouses.

By definition, marital property is any asset that was acquired by either spouse since marrying and before any legal separation or divorce proceedings commenced. Pensions or retirement funds, real estate, cars, artwork and jewelry are just some of the many items that may be considered marital assets.

Any cash contained in bank or deferred compensation accounts may be considered a marital asset. Business or real estate interests as well as any royalties or interest they generate may also be thought similarly as well.

Property that courts classify as separate property under Ohio Revised Code Title XXXI, Section 3105.171 includes gifts or inheritances earmarked for a particular spouse and interest or income generated from personal real estate investment properties. Any assets protected by a prenuptial agreement or those acquired prior to the marriage are also considered to belong to one spouse only.

While judges in equitable distribution states are supposed to divide property equally between spouses in a divorce, they may make exceptions to how assets are split up to make it more fair.

In such cases, a judge is required to consider how long the marriage lasted, the assets and debts each spouse has and the benefits of awarding the custodial parent the family home.

The judge must also reflect on how liquid the distributed property is and what its value is split up versus left intact. Tax implications of splitting assets equally among spouses is also an important consideration he or she is supposed to make.

If you’re are considering leaving your spouse, then you may benefit from discussing potential assets the two of you share with a Westerville divorce attorney beforehand.

Source: FindLaw, “Ohio marital property laws,” accessed June 15, 2018