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Can I keep something that was my spouse's before our marriage?

Ohio is an equitable distribution state, meaning that assets each spouse gathered during the marriage are marital except in cases of a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise or in some cases of financial misconduct. Assets such as inheritances or property that one spouse owned before the marriage may also be exempt from marital property.

So, if there is something of your spouse's that you have really enjoyed having and using, is there a way you can keep it after the divorce? Yes, it is possible.

Mutual agreement

One thing to know is that many divorcing couples have a lot of leeway in deciding how to divide their assets as long as they can do it themselves rather than forcing a judge to do it. If there is, say, a woodsy cottage belonging to your spouse that you would really like to have and your spouse is neutral about it or not as passionate about it as you are, then the two of you might strike an agreement that works for both of you. You get your woodsy cottage, possibly in exchange for giving something up.

Your contribution

It is also possible that you may have a genuine claim to these assets you want. If you have contributed your own funds and time to their enhancement or upkeep, you might be able to legitimately end up with these assets. It could also be that your spouse at some point made you a legal co-owner of the asset, so your route to keeping it is even clearer. For example, if your spouse owned a house before the marriage and, during the marriage, put your name on the title, then you do own the house too.

Determining who assets belong to is not always black and white. While one spouse may have a greater claim to certain assets, the other spouse might have somewhat of a claim too. If they conduct divorce negotiations in good faith, both spouses could end up with the assets that matter most to them.

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