When an Ohio couple decides to divorce, a litany of issues will be considered as the case moves forward. For some, there is a relatively smooth process in splitting the property and they can negotiate an acceptable settlement. In others, the property is of significant value and the divorce is acrimonious. This lays the foundation for a difficult divorce where the sides are in rampant dispute. The categorization of property is a key part of dealing with the case. Understanding what constitutes separate property is important from the start, especially if there is a home, major savings, stocks, retirement accounts, collectibles and other high-value items.
What is separate property?
After a couple is married, any property that they accrued during the union will likely be classified as marital property. If property that a person had when they entered the marriage increased in value while they were married and it was due to contribution from both spouses, that increase may be considered marital property. This is important if, for example, there was a business that grew more successful over the course of the marriage. The spouse who brought the business into the marriage could be obligated to share its increased value as part of the divorce settlement.
Still, there are other properties that will be separate. If a spouse received an inheritance, that will be separate. Those who receive a large inheritance are not obligated to share it even if it was acquired while they were married. Anything that a spouse acquired before a marriage will be separate. Passive income – that which does not require any effort to maintain – and its appreciation is also separate if it came about during the marriage. Another aspect of separate property might be a personal injury award. If a person was injured in an auto accident, sued and received a large settlement, the other spouse might try and say that he or she is justified in receiving a part of it. However, this is separate property under the law.
Avoiding the confusion over separate property may require experienced help
In many divorces, dispute is unfortunately inevitable. For those who have high-value marital property or had properties that increased in value during the marriage, there could be extensive disagreements as to whether it is separate or marital property. Most people will grasp the basics of this complex aspect of the law, but its nuance can be confusing. Before allowing the case to degenerate into outright acrimony, having legal assistance from the start can be beneficial. Calling for representation is a useful step.