Property Distribution

Property Distribution

Ohio law demands equitable division of marital property upon divorce. Equitable division does not compel a court to award each spouse the same amount of assets and property. Instead, equitable division allows a court to use its discretion to issue a fair and equitable distribution of marital property after taking relevant factors into consideration.

Marital Property

Generally speaking, the court takes the following factors into account with property distribution: duration of the marriage; earning potential of each spouse; debts of each spouse; assets of each spouse; tax implications for each spouse; terms of any separation or prenuptial agreement; whether the custodial parent should be permitted to reside in the marital residence; liquidity of property subject to division; and separate property, not subject to division (such as property owned before marriage, an inheritance, equity in separate property, personal injury settlements or awards, and gifts). Some prenuptial agreements may insulate certain property from division.

Retirement Accounts

Retirement accounts, like pension plans, 401(k) accounts, and other retirement funds, qualify as property subject to division when those funds accrued during the marriage. The division of assets earned through a pension plan, 401(k), or retirement savings account is divided through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) filed with the court and sent to an employer’s plan administrator. O’Brien Law counsels clients and works with retirement consultants to maneuver complicated retirement issues to obtain results for a secure future based on the particular client’s case, family circumstances, and future goals. Like other marital property, courts divide retirement accounts under the theory of equitable distribution. O’Brien Law educates clients about their options, risks, areas of potential negotiation, and makes recommendations after valuing the marital portion of retirement funds.

Marital Debt

Analogous to marital property, debt accumulated during the marriage is similarly subject to division. Contrary to common misconceptions, when a spouse’s name is on a credit card, loan, or account, that spouse can be held financially responsible for that debt, even if those funds were never used by that particular spouse. It is of critical importance to be deliberate when deciding how marital debts will be discharged. O’Brien Law imbues clients with sound guidance after reviewing marital property and debts to inform clients of the possible options and suggests a course of action to competently handle marital debt in light of the global picture of that family’s finances.

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