Ohio statutes define marital and separate property. Marital property is property acquired during the marriage, including real estate, personal property, intangible property (such as stocks and bonds, bank accounts) and retirement plans, regardless of legal title. Marital property also may include increases in the value of separate property due to either spouse's labor or contribution of marital money to the increase in the property's value.
Separate property includes all real, personal and intangible property from an inheritance; property owned before the marriage; income or appreciation on separate property that did not come from a marital contribution of either party during the marriage; a gift after the marriage date if proved to be made to only one spouse; and an award for personal injury (except any part of the award that compensates for lost wages occurring during the marriage, or medical bills from the injury paid with marital funds).
By applying statutory laws and appropriate case law, the court determines how long the marriage has lasted and what it considers to be marital property. Marital property is to be divided equally, unless the court explains in writing why an equal division would not be fair. In making the award, the court must apply the eight specific factors listed in the statute and any other factor it finds relevant and equitable.
The court also has the authority to make a distributive award from separate property of either party to the other to achieve a fair result. When a party has engaged in financial misconduct such as hiding property, dissipating money, or funds, or disposing of funds fraudulently, the court may make an award out of the separate property of the offending spouse, or make a greater award of marital property to compensate the other party.