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Wayne County divorce lawyerTraditionally, in the past, when a couple married, whatever assets they each brought to the marriage and whatever assets they amassed together were typically shared. If the couple divorced, then the court would make the final decision on how those assets would be distributed between the two spouses.

Today, many couples execute prenuptial agreements (or in some cases postnuptial agreements), and/or they keep the majority of their assets separate. This usually makes the division of assets fairly straightforward in the event the couple divorce. But even with prenups and separate financial accounts, there are still many couples who choose the traditional route of commingling assets. How does Ohio law address those divorces, especially if the couple has a high net worth?

Equitable Distribution Method

Under Ohio law, the marital estate is distributed according to the equitable distribution method. Keep in mind, however, that equitable does not necessarily mean equal, as is the case in states that use the community property method that divides the marital estate in half. The court’s goal of equitable distribution is to ensure the couple’s assets are divided fairly, and fairly does not always mean equally. Some of the factors the judge will consider include:

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Wayne County Divorce AttorneyIn most divorces, property division is a matter of two honest people trying to unwind a set of shared assets. There may be contentious issues, but people usually play by the rules. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are times when one spouse attempts to conceal assets from the other in order to keep them for themselves rather than divide them up in the divorce. In these situations it can be helpful for the other spouse to understand some common strategies for finding hidden assets, so that they can be on the lookout for them. These strategies tend to be about cash flow manipulation, and they fall into two basic categories. Spouses hide assets either by concealing their income or making their expenses look bigger.

Concealing Income

Income concealment is when a spouse makes it appear as though they have less money coming in than they actually do. There are a number of ways that they can do this. One common method is through coordination with their employer. For instance, a spouse due for a raise or a bonus can talk to their boss and attempt to defer payment until after the divorce process ends. At that point, since the two are no longer married, that spouse gets to keep all the extra income for themselves.

Spouses can also use policies provided by the IRS to conceal some income. The IRS allows people to have their tax refunds deposited into an individual account, even if the refund is from a joint tax return. Spouses looking to hide these assets may take advantage of this to hide the refund in an account under their own name.

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Brunswick Divorce AttorneyDuring the divorce process, a couple will need to address ownership of multiple types of marital assets. The equitable division of marital property will provide both spouses with a fair share of the money and assets they acquired during their marriage. While the division of some types of assets may be straightforward, other types of property can present complications, and spouses may encounter contentious disputes as they address these issues. Family businesses are one type of asset that can sometimes be difficult to address, but by understanding their rights and options, spouses can make decisions that will provide them with the financial resources they need going forward.

Is a Business Considered Marital or Separate Property?

A family business will be part of the marital estate if it was founded or acquired while a couple was married. In these cases, business assets will need to be considered alongside other marital assets and debts. If a business was owned by one spouse before the couple was married, it will usually be considered separate property, and that spouse will be able to maintain sole ownership of business assets. However, a business owned by one spouse may become commingled with other marital property, such as if the couple invested marital funds in the business. A spouse will be able to maintain ownership of any business assets that can be traced back to separate property, but other business assets may need to be divided between the spouses.

Options for Dividing Business Assets

In many cases, one or both spouses may wish to ensure that a family business can continue operating, especially if the business is the primary source of income for either spouse. Spouses may be able to address ownership of a business through one of the following options:

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shutterstock_1520254223.jpgNearly everyone who goes through a divorce will have some concerns about their ability to provide for themselves once their marriage has been terminated. However, this can be an even larger worry if you are a stay-at-home parent. If you have chosen to put raising your children ahead of your career, this may have made you financially dependent on the income earned by your spouse, and depending on how long you have been out of the workforce, you may struggle to find and maintain employment following your divorce. In this type of situation, you will likely be wondering whether you can receive spousal support that will allow you to meet your needs and provide for your family.

Addressing Spousal Support in an Ohio Divorce

There is no guarantee that spousal support will be awarded to a spouse during the divorce process. These situations are handled on a case-by-case basis, so if you believe that you need financial support from your spouse, you will need to demonstrate that this support is needed and that your spouse has the ability to provide you with spousal support. When determining whether spousal support is appropriate, a judge will consider factors such as:

  • The income of both spouses, including any income earned through marital property allocated to a spouse during divorce

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Medina County divorce attorney asset division

When you and your spouse got married, you joined your lives personally and financially. Separating your lives through divorce also involves separating your finances. The division of assets and debts is often one of the most consequential aspects of the divorce process. The fewer assets and liabilities a couple has, the simpler this process typically is. Complex assets and investments or a high net worth will greatly complicate asset division during a divorce. If you have a complicated financial situation and you plan to end your marriage, working with a skilled divorce lawyer is highly recommended.

Marital and Separate Property that Has Been Commingled  

Ohio is an “equitable division” state, which means that marital property is divided fairly between the spouses based on factors including each spouse’s property, debts, and earning potential, the duration of the marriage, and tax consequences. Only property contained within the marital estate is divided by Ohio courts in a divorce. Property that is classified as “separate property” is assigned to the spouse who originally owned the asset. Marital property is the property that was acquired during the marriage. Separate property includes property acquired before the marriage, inheritance, passive income from separate property, and property acquired after a legal separation.

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