All of the property acquired by a couple during marriage is considered marital property and thus subject to division during the divorce process. Some states (not including Ohio) recognize "community property," in which all property is jointly owned. Ohio marital property laws follow the majority of states in dividing marital property through equitable distribution.
Division of Marital Property in Ohio
In divorce proceedings, the court determines the property that is marital property and the property that is the separate property of each spouse. Once the property is classified, the court divides the property "equitably" between the spouses. Generally speaking, each spouse is considered to have contributed equally to the acquisition and production of marital property.
What Is Considered Marital Property in Ohio?
In Ohio, marital property is that which is acquired by the couple during the marriage, defined as the period between the date of the marriage through the final hearing of a legal separation or divorce action. The state defines marital property as including:
- All real and personal property currently owned by either or both spouses (this includes retirement benefits);
- All interest that either or both spouses have in real estate or personal property;
- All income and appreciation on separate property pertaining to the other spouse's labor, monetary, or in-kind contribution; and
- Money from a public employee participant (deferred compensation) account.
What Is Separate Property in Ohio?
Ohio marital property laws exclude the following (which are considered "separate property" in a divorce or separation proceeding):
- Inheritance by one spouse;
- Real estate, personal property, or interest acquired by one spouse prior to the marriage;
- Passive income/interest acquired from separate property;
- Real or personal property excluded through a prenuptial agreement; and
- Any gift given to one spouse during the marriage (proven through clear evidence to have been given to only one spouse).
It's important to remember that, as per Ohio marital property laws, separate property can remain separate even if it's commingled with other types of property unless the separate property can no longer be traced (as separate property).
Ohio Marital Property Laws at a Glance
It's important to read the actual statute when researching laws, but it can be helpful to first read a summary of the relevant statutes in plain English first. The following chart provides a brief overview of Ohio marital laws, and links to relevant statutes.
Ohio Revised Code Title XXXI, Section 3105.171 (Division of Property)
|Community Property Recognized?
|How Is Property Divided?
Generally, marital property is divided equally; however, if equal division would be inequitable, then the court will decide to divide it in a manner that is equitable as per the court. Some of the factors used to determine that the division of property is equitable are:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The liabilities and assets of the spouses;
- The liquidity of the property that's being distributed;
- The desirability of awarding the family home to the spouse who has custody of the children (of the marriage);
- The economic desirability of leaving an asset intact;
- The tax consequences to each spouse; and
- Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.
Ohio Revised Code Title XXXI:
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Ohio Marital Property Laws: Related Resources
Have Questions About Ohio Marital Property Laws? Talk to an Attorney
Ohio's marital property laws give you a general sense of how your property will be divided in the event of a divorce or separation. However, the actual asset split depends on the particular circumstances of your case. If you're going through a divorce in Ohio and need assistance with property division issues, it's best to discuss your situation with an experienced divorce attorney near you to get personalized legal advice.