In every divorce or dissolution, the court must divide the property owned by the parties. Generally, some property will be distributed to the husband and some property will be distributed to the wife.
The term "property" refers to financial assets and legal rights that have some economic value. Typical examples of such assets include homes, cars, furniture, bank accounts, stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Other examples include pensions, retirement plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), some life insurance policies and complex assets.
Complex assets, such as interests in businesses and professional practices, are assets that are legally or financially complex. Other examples include sophisticated financial investments (stock options, limited partnerships, etc.), interests in estates and trusts, contract rights, intellectual property rights, tax and government benefits, and rights and interests in real estate located in other states and countries. Complex assets are discussed in detail on the Complex Asset Cases
Marital property is property acquired during the parties' marriage and still owned at the time the marriage ends. Generally, marital property is acquired through the efforts of one or both parties. Property may be marital property even if the property's title is in the name of only one party. Usually, when a marriage ends, the value of the marital property is divided equally between the parties.
Separate property is property that is not marital property. When a marriage is terminated, separate property is awarded to the owner and is not divided between the parties. Five primary types of separate property exist:
- Property owned prior to the marriage
- Property received as a gift
- Property received as an inheritance
- Property received as a personal injury award
- Property addressed in a valid prenuptial agreement
Commingled property is property that is part marital property and part separate property. Generally, commingled property is treated like marital property because it is divided equally between the parties. However, in some cases, the separate property component will be distributed solely to one party. For this to happen, the party seeking the property must "trace" the current separate property component back to the original item of separate property. The party must show some strong relationship between the current separate property component and the original item of separate property.
Normally, for every item of property, a dollar value must be determined. Some items are easy to value, such as bank accounts. The balance in a bank account is determined online or from the most current bank account statement. Other items are more difficult to value. For example, conflicts often arise regarding the value of real estate and interests in businesses and professional practices.
When a marriage is terminated, a final court order will state what property is awarded to the husband and what property is awarded to the wife. A court order dividing property is final and cannot be modified.
A debt is a legal duty to pay money. Typical examples of debts include home loans (mortgages), car loans, home equity line-of-credit loans, and credit card debts. A debt can be classified as a marital debt or as a separate debt. Like property, the parties' debts are divided when their marriage ends.
If a court finds that a party has engaged in financial misconduct, the court may adjust the property- and debt-division to achieve a fair result. Various types of financial misconduct exist. For example, a party who wrongfully causes property to disappear or decrease in value has committed financial misconduct.
The DHP law firm attorneys have produced successful outcomes for many family law clients. Please click here to read about success stories that reflect various family law issues. Perhaps you will see your marital issues reflected in one or more of these brief stories.
Contact DHP for a free confidential consultation with one of our attorneys. We can give you information about your specific rights and options. Our firm has 4 attorneys who are Certified Specialists in Family Relations Law. No other law firm in Central Ohio has more Certified Specialists. Fewer than 1% of all attorneys in Ohio have earned the Certified Specialist designation.
DHP is located in a safe and convenient suburban location with free on-site parking. We are located within minutes of Upper Arlington, Hilliard, Dublin, Worthington, and Northwest Columbus.
- 3010 Hayden Road
- Next to Bravo restaurant
From Hayden Road, turn onto Donnylane Boulevard. Turn right at the first driveway. The main entrance to our building is adjacent to the parking lot.