Going through a divorce can be a challenging and emotional experience, especially when it comes to dividing assets.
One question that often arises is whether an ex-spouse is entitled to a portion of your inheritance. In Ohio, the division of marital property follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that assets acquired during the marriage are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally.
Separate vs. marital property
To determine if your ex-spouse has a claim to your inheritance, you must first understand the difference between separate and marital property. Separate property includes assets that you owned before the marriage, gifts or inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage and certain personal injury awards. Marital property, on the other hand, consists of assets that both spouses acquired during the marriage.
In Ohio, separate property remains the sole property of the spouse who owns it, while marital property is subject to equitable distribution. Inheritances are generally considered separate property and are not subject to division in a divorce.
Commingling of assets
There is one significant exception to the rule that inheritances are separate property: if you commingle your inheritance with marital assets, it may lose its separate property status and become marital property. Commingling occurs when separate property is combined or mixed with marital property, making it difficult to trace back to its original source. Examples of commingling include depositing inheritance funds into a joint bank account or using inheritance money to make improvements on a jointly-owned home.
Your ex-spouse is typically not entitled to half of your inheritance in an Ohio divorce, as long as it remains separate property. By keeping your inheritance separate and considering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you can help protect your assets and ensure a fair division of property in your divorce.