Property division remains one of the most contentious issues in a divorce proceeding. It frequently causes added emotional turmoil to an already stressful ending to a marital relationship. Inheritances can make property division even more complicated, specifically because of Ohio’s equitable distribution law.
In Ohio, if the parties cannot reach an agreement on how their property should be divided, either party can request that a court make a decision for them through Ohio’s equitable distribution statute. The statute allows the court to divide all property in which either property has an interest. If the court engages in this process, it will first determine which property is marital and which is separate.
There are several factors that the court must consider in equitable division. They include the following:
● The duration of the marriage;
● The assets and liabilities of the parties;
● The liquidity of the property;
● The desirability of retaining an asset intact or retaining an interest in an asset;
● The tax consequences of property division;
● The retirement benefits of each spouse;
● Any other factor the court finds to be relevant and equitable
An inheritance received by one spouse during a marriage is explicitly classified by Ohio statute as separate property. Therefore, regardless of the duration of the marriage, this inheritance will normally not be subject to equitable distribution by a judge. However, there is a provision in the statute that states that if separate property is commingled with other property to the extent that it is no longer traceable, then that commingling may destroy its “separate” nature. This may occur if the inheritance is deposited into a joint account, or if it is used to purchase property along with marital monies. Therefore, maintaining accurate records to prove the separate identity of the inheritance is key in order to protect one’s investments.
Columbus Family Law Attorney
If you are contemplating divorce but are unsure of how to protect your assets and investments, you should seek the assistance of a family law attorney. Contact the Law Offices of William L. Geary at (614) 289-1227 to speak to an attorney who can help you make decisions that are best for your situation.