Figuring out how to share property and income acquired during a marriage is frequently one of the most pressing challenges during Ohio divorce proceedings. The longer people have remained married, the more property they may need to split with each other. The equitable distribution statute in Ohio gives a judge the authority to split any marital property in a manner that they believe is appropriate and fair based on what they know of the family’s circumstances, in the event that the parties cannot reach mutually-agreeable divorce terms without judicial intervention.
People often make their largest marital assets the focal point of their divorce negotiations or litigation. Retirement accounts, family-owned businesses and real property are often the biggest points of contention in an Ohio divorce. Some people seek to protect these high-value assets by proving that they are separate property that is not subject to division. However, there are scenarios in which a judge may issue a distributive award during property division litigation regardless of someone’s assertion that an asset should belong solely to one individual.
A distributive award applies to separate property
In most Ohio divorce cases, it is only the shared marital property that couples have to think about dividing. Assets that either spouse owned before marriage will likely not be subject to division. The couple can also usually exclude inherited property and gifts from the pool of marital property. As a result, people often expect to retain all of their separate property in a divorce.
Still, there are scenarios in which assets that are technically separate property could also end up split between the spouses. When a judge issues a distributive award during the property division process in an Ohio divorce, a spouse who technically has no immediately visible interest in certain assets will receive a portion of them either to make the property division outcome more appropriate or potentially to replace spousal support or alimony.
In some cases, it is the unequal financial circumstances of the spouses that may lead to a distributive award. Other times, it may serve a punitive purpose if there was significant financial misconduct by one spouse that reduced the total value of the marital estate.
Those seeking or hoping to prevent a distributive award during divorce proceedings will usually need financial evidence to support their concerns. Understanding the elements that influence property division in an Ohio divorce may help people push for the best possible outcome. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.