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You have worked hard to obtain assets, including a home, vehicles, and more. You shouldn’t lose it all in a divorce. You also shouldn’t be unfairly burdened with a spouse’s high credit card balances and other debt. An Akron divorce lawyer can help you make sure you get a fair outcome in your case.
Marital assets, or “marital property,” includes all property that belongs to a couple. Marital property is assets acquired during the marriage, including a home, motor vehicles, bank accounts, retirement benefits, and more.
According to Ohio Revised Code Annotated Section 3105.171(A)(3), marital property includes the following:
Marital property does not include “separate property.” Separate property is any of the following:
It can be challenging to prove a marital asset when spouses share real and personal property, such as bank accounts. It’s essential to keep as many records as you can and present them to your divorce lawyer so they can help you prove what is yours.
There are two ways to divide assets between spouses: A separation agreement or equitable division through the court.
A separation agreement is a written document that tells the court how you want to divide real and personal property. This agreement may also provide guidelines for spousal support or alimony. A separation agreement helps you control the division of assets and debts rather than the court.
A separation agreement can help you and your spouse avoid a prolonged, expensive, and bitter divorce. However, no matter how good-natured your relationship is, you must protect yourself. Your spouse will not be on your side, and their attorney will be looking out for their best interests, so you should have an attorney protecting your interests too.
The court ultimately will review your separation agreement and determine if it seems fair. The court will not likely change anything unless it looks like one party is unfairly coercing the other party in some way. In most cases, the court signs off on a separation agreement and incorporates it into the final divorce decree.
If the division of some or all marital assets is in dispute, the court will divide property for you. In Ohio, the court makes an equitable distribution of property. That does not mean that both sides get an equal amount of property, but that the outcome of the division should be fair and “equitable.”
For example, the court might award the marital home to the spouse who earns less because they might not afford another place to live.
When determining how to divide marital assets, the court must know which property is marital and which is separate.
Some of the factors the court considers when determining an equitable division include:
The court may consider other factors as both parties present them as being necessary to the case.
Marital debts are considered the same as any other property in Ohio. Before dividing debt, the court will determine if it is “marital debt” or “separate debt.” Then, they will apply the factors mentioned above when assigning responsibility for it.
If you have credit cards, personal loans, car loans, mortgages, and more in your name alone, it may still be considered marital debt. Any debt obtained during the marriage, before legal separation, and is for the benefit of the entire family or both spouses, may be considered marital debt.
Suppose one spouse was irresponsible with debt or hid it from the other spouse. In that case, your divorce attorney may be able to argue that it should be considered separate debt. However, the court may still assign the debt to both parties if both spouses benefit from it.
The court equitably divides marital debts. If one spouse earns considerably more than the other, they might be assigned a larger share of the debt.
When a spouse wants to keep a piece of marital property, such as a home, the court might order them to refinance and get a mortgage in their name. This protects the other spouse from potential debt or foreclosure.
An Akron divorce lawyer with Erb Legal protects your rights and your finances during a divorce. We can help ensure that your assets and debts are equally divided between you and your spouse.