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Equality is not always the goal

We all remember the grade school lesson about equality: "All men are created equal," it says in the Declaration of Independence. Abraham Lincoln repeated the phrase in his Gettysburg Address. Thomas Jefferson wrote about equal rights and the Supreme Court had chiseled on the front of its imposing building the famous phrase "equal justice under the law."

It's not surprising then that many people who decide to divorce expect equality in property division. Ohio law is clear that equality is not the goal, however. The goal here is the equitable distribution of assets, which might or might not require an equal distribution of assets.

If you go to the Butler County courthouse here in Hamilton for a divorce, you'll find that the court considers all assets accumulated during the marriage to be marital assets to be divided equitably. Marital assets can include the house the two of you lived in, as well as your cars, the contents of your bank accounts, your stock portfolio and so on.

The Ohio Bar Association notes that courts recognize that not every belonging or asset is to be divided in divorce. There are non-marital assets that include things owned before you were married, as well as inheritances, gifts given to you, and personal injury proceeds you received for pain and suffering.

One way to protect possession of your belongings is to have a prenuptial agreement that specifically states that you own the house, car, saddle, antique or whatever it is that you acquired before the marriage. You can discuss what can be included in the agreement with an experienced Butler County family law attorney.

If you don't have a prenuptial agreement, discuss your property division priorities and concerns with a Hamilton lawyer who knows how to protect your rights and interests in divorce.

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