Dividing property is often one of the most complex issues of any divorce. This is never more true than when the divorce involves assets which are high in value or widespread. Determining what belongs to each spouse can be time-consuming, but doing so ensures that the property is divided as it should be.
What is asset tracing?
Asset tracing is the process of determining ownership rights, of various assets, of the spouses during the marriage. It can be done with anything from bank accounts and insurance policies to property and business interests. The goal of asset tracing is not simply to determine which spouse owned a particular asset, but exactly when they owned it and how much of it they owned. While the answers to these questions can sometimes be straightforward, ownership can also morph through the duration of the marriage, changing the level of interest the spouses have in a particular asset.
Why does tracing ownership matter?
When a court distributes property during a divorce, the first thing it will seek to do is classify property as either marital or separate property. Separate proper will be retained by the spouse who owned it and marital property will be distributed equitably between the parties. However, Ohio carries a presumption that the spouses contributed to their assets equally. This means that, if a spouse chooses to claim an asset as separate property, they must be able to provide evidence that it is, in fact, separate property.
This is where asset tracing comes in, especially for high-asset divorces. For a spouse who is seeking to claim an asset as separate property, tracing it can provide the necessary documentation to support their claim. For a spouse who chooses to challenge a claim of separate property, tracing it can reveal how the property was commingled or otherwise used in a way which created an ownership interest for them.