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It's not a word used much in poetry or song. "Equitable" isn't a word found in epitaphs or love letters, but it is nevertheless a powerful word that describes an important component of Ohio divorce law.

When a couple divorces here, their marital property is to be divided equitably. The exception to the rule is found when a prenuptial agreement exists.

Of course, the law immediately raises questions about which assets are considered part of the marital estate. Our state says that assets accumulated during the marriage -- by husband or wife -- are included in the marital estate.

Courts have in the past ruled that couples who separate before their divorce have essentially ended their marriages. That can be important in matters of property division because assets accumulated after a separation and before a divorce might not be divided between the two parties.

The Ohio State Bar Association notes that courts generally interpret "equitable" division of property to mean equal division. Courts don't care which spouse owns a particular asset. The example the organization uses is a pension. Even if only your spouse contributed to the pension during your marriage, the funds accumulated during the marriage are to be divided equally.

That does not mean that a court won't recognize that some assets are non-marital. The Bar Association says these non-marital assets are one of the following types:

  • Assets owned before the marriage
  • Gifts made to a spouse
  • Inheritances
  • Compensation for pain and suffering due to a personal injury

Experienced divorce attorneys can help explain your options in property division disputes.

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