How Are Assets and Debts Divided in a Divorce?

How to Navigate the Division of Assets and Debts in a Divorce

Divorce is never easy, and one of the most challenging aspects is dividing assets and debts. It can be a complicated and emotional process, but it's essential to ensure a fair and equitable distribution. Here are some tips to help you navigate the division of assets and debts in a divorce.

1. Understand the Difference Between Marital and Separate Property

The first step in dividing assets and debts in a divorce is to determine what is marital property and what is separate property.

Marital Property in Ohio

Marital property includes all assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of how the property is titled or which spouse holds legal ownership. It encompasses income earned, real estate acquired, investments made, retirement benefits, and other assets obtained during the marriage.

In Ohio, the principle of equitable distribution means that marital property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between the spouses. The court considers various factors to determine what is fair, such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse's contributions to the marital estate, the economic circumstances of each party, the value of separate property, and any other relevant factors.

Separate Property in Ohio

Separate property refers to assets and debts that are owned by one spouse before the marriage or acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent during the marriage. It can also include any property that the spouses have agreed to designate as separate property through a valid written agreement.

Separate property is generally not subject to division during divorce proceedings. Each spouse retains ownership of their separate property, and it remains outside the scope of the equitable distribution process. However, it's crucial to note that if separate property is commingled with marital property or used in a way that demonstrates an intent to make it marital property, it may lose its separate status and become subject to division.

2. Create an Inventory of All Assets and Debts

Before dividing assets and debts, it's essential to create an inventory of everything you own and owe. Having a complete list will help ensure that everything is accounted for and divided fairly.


  • Real Estate:

    • Primary residence
    • Vacation property
    • Rental properties
    • Land or undeveloped property
  • Financial Assets:

    • Bank accounts (checking, savings, money market)
    • Investment accounts (stocks, bonds, mutual funds)
    • Retirement accounts (401(k), IRA, pension plans)
    • Life insurance policies (cash value)
  • Personal Property:

    • Vehicles (cars, motorcycles, boats, etc.)
    • Jewelry
    • Artwork
    • Furniture and appliances
    • Electronics and gadgets
    • Collectibles (coins, stamps, etc.)
    • Other valuable items (antiques, heirlooms)
  • Business Interests:

    • Ownership interests in a business or professional practice
    • Partnership interests
    • Sole proprietorships
  • Other Assets:

    • Loans owed to you (promissory notes, personal loans)
    • Intellectual property rights (patents, copyrights)
    • Royalties or licensing agreements
    • Trusts or other beneficial interests
    • Any other assets not previously mentioned


  • Mortgage Loans:

    • Primary residence
    • Other real estate properties
  • Other Loans:

    • Auto loans
    • Student loans
    • Personal loans
    • Credit card balances
    • Lines of credit
    • Business loans
    • Tax debts
  • Other Debts:

    • Medical debts
    • Legal debts
    • Any other outstanding obligations not previously mentioned

3. Consider the Value of Assets and Debts

When dividing assets and debts, it's not just about splitting everything in half. It's essential to consider the value of each asset and debt. For example, a retirement account may be worth more than a bank account with the same balance. Similarly, a credit card with a high balance may be more burdensome than a loan with a lower balance.

4. Negotiate a Settlement

Once you have a complete inventory and have considered the value of assets and debts, it's time to negotiate a settlement. This can be done through mediation or with the help of attorneys. It's essential to be open and honest about your financial situation and work towards a fair and equitable distribution.

5. Get Professional Help

Dividing assets and debts in a divorce can be a complicated process, and it's essential to get professional help. An experienced divorce attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected. They can also help you negotiate a settlement and represent you in court if necessary.

If you need help with the division of assets and debts in a divorce, contact Grossman Law Offices. Our experienced divorce attorneys can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Contact us today for a consultation.