Equitable Distribution

In Ohio and the rest of the United States, ending a marriage begets another set of marital issues that must be resolved. For example, ex-spouses may be called upon to decide who will take custody over the any children and what if one of the spouses moves out of state? Will one of the ex-spouses be required to pay alimony to the other? Lastly, who will get to ownership of the house or other valuable assets?

These questions usually cause the most controversy in cases of marriage separation. The Ohio court of common pleas takes very close and special consideration before allocating the results.

The basic rule of Ohio law requires that the court look at all the assets accumulated during the marriage, by both spouses’ efforts, and distribute it equitably. It does not matter whether a spouse owned a certain asset; like an existing pension account under only one of the spouse’s name, for example, will be divided equally.

Unless both parties have signed a pre-marital agreement, the court will consider all property in possession of both parties and determine which property will be considered separate property and which will be considered marital property.

It is key for anyone who will, in the Ohio Court of Common Pleas, to find an experienced, reputable attorney to help them with his or her case.

Attorney for Equitable Distribution in Columbus, Ohio

Going through a divorce can change your life forever, not only emotionally but financially as well. Without an experienced family law attorney, your spouse could potentially receive property that you may feel entitled to own.

The court always tries to distribute the couple’s property equitably, but certain circumstances could result in an unfavorable dispersal. Finding an experienced family law attorney is imperative.

The attorneys as Joslyn Law Firm know just how important cases of this nature can be for someone’s life. With years of experience in Franklin County, Madison County, Fairfield County, Licking County, Pickaway County, and Delaware County, Joslyn Law Firm is a Ohio mainstay.

You need an attorney that is going to fight for you until the end. Do not let yourself succumb; take the first step in defending your rights.

Contact Joslyn Law Firm today at (614) 420-2424 for a free consultation.

Overview for Equitable Distribution in Ohio 


Property Defined at Martial Property

After a divorce, the Ohio Court of Common pleas will divide property acquired during the marriage, and will look at each spouse’s contribution to the marital estate to decide an equitable distribution. Usually, when two people join in matrimony, each person will already be in possession of personal property. It is the court’s duty divide the property, and to decide what is martial property.

As outlined in Ohio Statute 3105.17, the duration or term of marriage begins from the time and date of marriage to the final hearing in an action for divorce or legal separation. Although this is the norm for equitable distribution cases in Ohio, if the court deems either of these dates unfair, it may select dates to section the marriage more fairly. In other words, though a marriage may have its own predefined dates, the court may change those dates to determine equitable separation of marital property.

In addition, this Statute lays out a definition for property that can be considered marital property. These items are listed here:

  • All real and personal property owned by either one, or both, of the spouses; including retirement benefits acquired by either one of the spouses during marriage;
  • Interest that either or both of the spouses have in any property, including retirement benefits;
  • All income and appreciation on separate property due to the labor or monetary contribution that either spouse made to the marriage;
  • Money that has been deferred or transmitted to the Ohio public employees compensation board, a municipal corporation, or a governmental unit.

Property Defined as a Separate Property

In Ohio, there are certain items that are categorized as separate property, and are not considered marital property, unless previously agreed upon by both parties prior to the marriage.

At the beginning of these cases, the court makes the presumption that all the assets of the marriage can be considered as marital property. If one of the spouses can properly show the court, through documentation, that the asset was acquired before the marriage then it will not be considered martial.

In addition, there are assets that are generally considered separate. These assets are considered separate assets in the Ohio Court of Common Pleas:

  • Assets owned before the marriage;
  • An inheritance by bequest, devise, or descent during the marriage;
  • Passive income and appreciation acquired by a spouse during marriage;
  • Any gift, or personal property that can be proven to be given to only one of the spouses;
  • Compensation given to a spouse for that spouse’s personal injury;
  • Any personal property excluded by a valid antenuptial agreement.

How A Court Decides Equitable Distribution

During divorce proceedings, a court will determine the validity of separate properties and marriage properties and then will categorize the assets. The court will then divide the assets of the marriage equally, before considering any spousal support requests or claims.

To do this, each spouse will have to be considered as having contributed equally to the production and acquisition of marital property by the court.

After this, the court will disburse the separate property to the appropriate spouse. When distributing marital assets, the court has enumerated authority that it may exercise:

  • The court may distribute an award to facilitate, effectuate, or supplement a division of marital property, and may require any distributive award to be secured by a lien on the payer’s separate property;
  • The court may make a distributive award in lien of a division of marital property so to achieve equity, if a division of marital property would be impractical or burdensome;
  • The court will require each spouse to disclose all marital property, separate property, assets, debts, income, and expenses;
  • If one spouse has engaged in financial misconduct such as the dissipation, destruction, concealment, nondisclosure, or fraudulent disposition of assets, the court may compensate the other spouse with a distributive award or a greater portion of marital property;
  • If a spouse has purposely failed to disclose any property, asset, debt, income, or expense, the court may compensate the other spouse with a distributive award or a greater portion of marital property, not exceeding three times the value disclosed to the other spouse.

When finalizing the division of marital property between the two ex-spouses, the court also considers these following factors of the case:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The assets and liabilities of the spouses;
  • The liquidity of the property;
  • The desirability of awarded family home to spouse with custody of children of marriage;
  • The economic desirability of retaining asset or interest in asset;
  • The costs of sale should the asset be sold to effectuate equitable distribution of property;
  • The tax consequences of a property division;
  • Division or disbursement of property made in separation agreement voluntarily made by spouses;
  • Retirement benefits of the spouses, excluding social security benefits;
  • Any other remaining factor the court could find relevant.

Additional Resources

Ohio Revised Code | 3105.171 – Visit the official website for Ohio’s Laws and Rules, LAWriter, to find out more about the equitable distribution of property after a legal marriage separation.

Ohio State Bar | Dividing of Assets – Read the Ohio State Bar Association’s official website to learn more about how the Ohio court of common pleas deals with the contentious division of assets. In addition, if you are interested in other law related matters in the state of Ohio, there are legal resources made readily available for all.


Find a Equitable Distribution Attorney in Franklin County

The court has to consider many factors and circumstances when attempting to equitably distribute assets between former spouses. Going through a divorce with different tangible assets to consider may make the divorce process lengthy and stressful.

The attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm the pressures of having your life scrutinized by the court, so it is urgent that you find experienced and knowledgeable advice. Joslyn Law Firm has practiced law in the Columbus, Ohio area for years and has taken cases in all of Franklin County.

Joslyn Law Firm has also defending cases in all the surround county seats such as: Delaware in Delaware County, Circleville in Pickaway County, London in Madison County, Newark in Licking County, and Lancaster in Fairfield County.

If you or a loved one is faced with an equitable distribution suit, get the help of an experienced family law attorney.

Contact Joslyn Law Firm today at (614) 420-2424 to schedule a free consultation today.


This article was last updated on September 21, 2018.

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