Under Ohio’s approach to asset division in divorces, property that people acquire over the course of a marriage typically becomes marital property. Gifts are one of the most notable exceptions to this rule.
Determining whether something is a gift or separate property is not always straightforward. Here are examples of gifts that may count as marital property in Ohio divorces.
Gifts between spouses
In many jurisdictions, a gift that one spouse makes to another will become the recipient’s separate property. In Ohio, however, gift-giving between spouses typically counts towards the marital estate.
Parties to divorce proceedings may be able to show that their spouse intended for them to have exclusive ownership of real or tangible property. In this event, a court may deem it to be separate property.
Gifts and commingling property
There are some instances in which commingling assets turns separate property into marital property. Nevertheless, this is usually not the case with gifts. Unless there is clear evidence documenting a person’s intent to convey an interest in a gift to a spouse, it remains that person’s separate property.
Using a gift of cash to make a down payment for a home that a couple shares could exemplify the conversion of a gift into marital property. However, it is worth noting that a spouse’s role in facilitating the purchase of a home could bear on how a court goes about dividing it. Courts consider each individual’s contribution to the marital estate in attempting to distribute assets equitably.
Ultimately, divorcing spouses who cannot readily agree on what they own separately should not immediately resort to litigation. Working towards a mutual agreement on property division matters can make the divorce process easier for both parties to navigate.