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Who Gets What? Your Guide to Divorce and Inheritance in Ohio

If you and your spouse are considering separation in Ohio, you are certainly not alone. According to information provided by the National Health Statistics Reports, approximately 50 percent of U.S. marriages will eventually end in a divorce. Though divorce is relatively common, it is far from easy. Every divorcing couple in Ohio will have their own unique issues that must be resolved before they can move forward.

Apart from issues involving children, the most contentious matter in any divorce case is typically property division. This is especially true if the couple has a large amount of assets, or if they have particularly complex financial assets, such as an inheritance. In fact, inheritance rights frequently lead to fierce disputes in divorce cases.

At the Lawrence Law Office, we have the skills and experience to handle financially complex divorce cases. In this article, our top-rated Columbus divorce lawyers provide an overview of the most important things that you need to know about divorce and inheritance in Ohio.

Ohio is an Equitable Distribution State

In Ohio, all marital assets are divided under the state’s equitable distribution standard (Section 3105.171 of the Revised Code of Ohio). An equitable distribution is a ‘fair’ distribution. This means that marital assets will not necessarily be divided in an equal manner. In some cases, ‘fair’ may not be a 50-50 split. Notably, all marital assets are subject to equitable distribution. If you received an inheritance from a parent, relative, or any other party, and that inheritance is now a marital asset, then your inheritance will be subject to division during the divorce.

Inheritance May Be Individual Property

While inheritance is sometimes divided, that is certainly not always the case; to be sure, in Ohio, inheritance can be kept as separate property. If you received an inheritance and you kept it as separate property, it will not be subject to equitable distribution. This is how it works in many divorce cases. Indeed, under Ohio law, inheritance is actually assumed to be a separate asset. However, it can quickly ‘transmute’ to marital property if the proper steps are not taken to protect and preserve its separate status.

Three Things You Should Do If You Want to Protect Your Inheritance

  • Consider a Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreement

If you want to be absolutely sure that your inheritance will be protected in case of divorce, you should draft a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement. Essentially, these agreements are contracts that will clearly set out what happens to your inheritance during a separation.

  • Avoid Commingling Inheritance and Marital Assets

Inheritance should not be commingled with marital assets. In Ohio, inheritance is typically considered to be separate property until it is commingled with marital assets. If you received a $100,000 inheritance check from a relative, and you simply deposit directly into your joint bank account, you may have trouble protecting that asset should you get divorced. Once the inheritance is commingled, it becomes far more difficult to separate it.

  • Use a Living Trust to Pass Down Money or Property

Protecting inheritance is as much of an estate planning issue as it a family law issue. When passing down a considerable amount of property, money, or other assets, it is often advisable to use a living trust. Among other advantages, a living trust makes it far easier to keep inheritance as a separate asset.

Contact Our Columbus, OH Divorce Attorneys Today

At the Lawrence Law Office, our skilled divorce lawyers have deep experience handling disputes over marital assets. We have handled many high asset divorce cases, including those involving inheritance and retirement savings. For immediate assistance with your divorce case, please do not hesitate to call our Columbus law office at 614-228-3664 to schedule your fully confidential family law consultation.

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