Working out the details of your divorce is never a simple task. Dividing a couple’s assets quickly becomes a contentious situation in many divorces and legal separations. Disagreements over what is marital property and separate property and how joint property should be split can result in a lengthy and difficult battle.
The Cleveland property division lawyers have helped our clients navigate the complex and emotional property division process for over four decades. We have seen first-hand the many challenges couples face when attempting to divide their assets. That is why we are here to offer expert legal guidance throughout the property division process and the many other matters relating to your divorces, such as spousal support, child support, and child custody.
When you work with Slater & Zurz, you can be assured knowing we will work hard to ensure your property is divided fairly and that the outcome of your divorce or legal separation is in line with your needs and objectives.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
Disagreements can quickly arise when a couple determines whether certain assets should be considered marital property or a spouse’s separate property.
Cleveland Domestic Relations Courts deem the marital property to be assets and debt acquired by either or both spouses during the course of the marriage. Separate property is generally viewed as property acquired separately by either spouse before the marriage or after separating. The individual property also includes gifts and inheritance received during the marriage.
Ohio courts consider the following to be marital property:
- Wages and salaries
- Rental income
- Investment Income
- Partnership interests and business assets
- Marital home
- Vacation homes
- Rental Properties
- Cars and boats
- Savings accounts
- Investment accounts
- Retirement funds, such as 401Ks and pensions
- Assets, such as jewelry, artwork, furniture, and collections
Separate property belongs to only one spouse. Some examples of the individual property include but are not limited to:
- Property acquired by either spouse before the marriage
- Gifts or inheritance received by one spouse either before or during the marriage
- Passive income generated from a spouse’s separate property
- Any property spouses agreed to as separate (in writing), typically included in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
- The portion of a personal injury settlement that does is not a reimbursement for expenses or lost wages, such as a pain and suffering award.
Marital Debt Division
Just as marital property must be divided between a divorce or legal separation, so must marital debt. As a general rule, both spouses are responsible for the debt either spouse incurred during the marriage.
As an equitable distribution state, Ohio divides and distributes marital debt fairly and equitably. It is important to note that even if only one spouse incurred the debt, that debt is still both spouses’ responsibility.
In certain circumstances, however, judges might consider excluding certain debts and deeming them separate and only the responsibility of one of the spouses. For example, suppose one spouse had an extramarital affair and accumulated significant debt by paying for expensive trips and gifts given to a third party. In that case, a judge might hold that spouse personally responsible for repaying that debt.
Arrange a FREE consultation with a Cleveland family law attorney by calling (440) 557-2861 or contacting us online.
Equitable Distribution of Property in Ohio
Ohio is an equitable distribution state, which means assets and debts are not necessarily split 50/50 between spouses. Instead, they are divided in a fair and equitable way. Many factors are taken into consideration when making a property division determination, including but not limited to:
- The duration of the marriage
- The assets and liabilities of each spouse
- The taxes resulting from the asset division
- Whether a spouse wishes to remain in the marital home and whether they will be raising children within that home
- The financial benefits of keeping an asset intact
- The cost of the sale of the property
- The true value of the asset
Hiding Assets in a Cleveland Divorce
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some spouses to conceal assets before or during a divorce or legal separation to avoid sharing those assets with their future ex-spouse. Some common ways to hide assets in a divorce include:
- Gifting or transferring assets to friends or family members
- Transferring assets to their business
- Cashing out bank or investment accounts and hiding the money
- Moving assets to other countries
The Importance of Accurate Valuations
We always recommend having a skilled property division lawyer on your side during the property division process. For one reason, having a fair and accurate valuation of all of your marital property is critical.
You might give your spouse more than what was rightfully theirs if you don’t have precise figures. Having an experienced Cleveland property division attorney to help secure accurate and fair valuations will allow you to hold onto what is rightfully yours.
Our Cleveland Property Division Lawyers Can Help Uncover Hidden Assets
Spouses are often faced with the alarming possibility that their soon-to-be former spouse is hiding assets in an attempt to avoid having to part with a portion of them. Fortunately, our Cleveland property division lawyers can help uncover any hidden assets, ensuring you get your fair share.
During a divorce, there is a process known as “discovery.” During this step, your attorney will request and obtain financial information and records to ensure all of your marital property is accounted for and ultimately divided fairly. The discovery process includes several methods of obtaining relevant information. These methods include:
Document requests – Your spouse will be asked by your attorney to provide documentation, such as tax returns and financial statements.
Written requests for admission and interrogatories – Your attorney will also request answers and confirmation of certain questions or statements regarding separate and marital property.
Inspection demands – You and your attorney can ask to inspect the property, such as items in a safe deposit box, various collectibles, or items within a jewelry collection.
Testimony given under oath – In an oral deposition, you, your spouse, and your attorneys appear before a court reporter. Once sworn to tell the truth, your spouse must answer questions asked by your lawyer.
With our extensive experience and resources, our attorneys will work hard to ensure all of your marital property is accounted for and that your spouse is unsuccessful in hiding assets that should be considered during the property division process. Being diligent during this process will ensure you receive the full amount you deserve.
The Consequences of Hiding Property in a Cleveland Divorce
Although some spouses might find it tempting to hide assets from their spouses, they take a huge risk when choosing to do so. Hiding assets in divorce come with some significant consequences.
Should a spouse lie under oath during the discovery process to hide assets, they will have committed perjury, which is a punishable crime. When a spouse, lawyer, or judge discovers someone lied under oath, that person could face a perjury charge and considerable monetary fines. The judge might also order the spouse to pay for a portion, if not all, of their ex-spouse’s attorney fees and costs.
Likewise, if a spouse is ordered to provide financial information and refuses to do so, they can be held in contempt of court, resulting in jail time.
A business started or grown during a marriage is typically considered a marital asset, therefore, divided in a divorce. In such a case, a business valuation expert or forensic accountant would determine the business’s value and divide that amount between the spouses equitably. This is done by giving the other spouse offsetting assets or allowing one spouse to buy out the other.
Consult with Cleveland’s Leading Property Division Lawyers
Being faced with the idea of dividing all that you worked so hard for can be frustrating and stressful. This is especially the case when you also have to resolve many other difficult matters relating to your divorce or legal separation.
Fortunately, our Cleveland property division lawyers can help. With over a century of collective experience, our qualified attorneys know how to effectively handle the matters of asset and debt division and other divorce-related decisions. We will work with our team of financial experts to ensure that all marital property is accurately valued and fairly divided. We will also advocate strongly on your behalf to ensure all other matters, such as spousal support, child support and custody, and parental visitation, are favorably resolved.
To learn more about how we can help, we encourage you to consult our skilled property division attorneys in Cleveland for FREE. You can reach us any time, day or night, by calling (440) 557-2861 or filling out our online form.