What is considered separate property in a divorce?

I often have clients come in who are misinformed about separate property and which assets should be divided in their divorce. Since I'm in Ohio, I will use that as my example. Ohio is an equitable division state. That means that a couples' marital assets are divided equitably in a divorce. It's important to note that equitable is not always equal but I will come back to that in another post. The question, however, is what constitutes a marital asset. All else would be considered separate property.

Pensions in Divorce

I hate gender stereotypes but I see this all the time so I think it is worth calling it out. I have never once had a man come into my office and say, "She can keep her pension, she earned it" while I frequently hear from female clients, "He can keep his pension, he earned it." I'm hoping others working in the divorce field have not had that same experience.

The pension is commonly the largest asset of the marriage.  If all or a portion of the pension was...

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10 Ways to Save Money on Your Divorce

Divorce is expensive. I've heard that the national average is around $20,000-25,000. Transitioning from marriage to divorce is hard enough without the hefty price tag. However, if you look at search engine traffic, a lot more people are searching for how they can protect their money in a divorce rather than how they can save money on the divorce process itself.

Saving money on your divorce does help to protect your money in a divorce as long as you are still getting sound professional guidance. You don't want to cut corners that are actually going to cost a lot more in the long run.

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Divorce

1. Communicate with your soon-to-be-ex. 

This means putting your emotions aside and having good, honest communication. The more you can decide on together, the less you will have to pay professionals. If you are not getting along well when you speak to each other, you may have better luck over email or text. Just make sure you are keeping it positive. If...

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Who Gets the House in a Divorce?

There is not a simple answer to the question of who gets the house in a divorce. It is, however, a question that comes up over and over as I work with divorcing couples. The family home is one of those marital assets that has memories – both good and bad – and it is a topic fraught with tension when a couple divorces. Here are some key factors to consider when determining who gets the house in a divorce.

Related: Deciding If You Should Keep the House

Questions to consider when determining who gets the house in a divorce

Why do you want to keep the house?

This question is not as straightforward as it may seem. Consider these questions.

  • Is your desire to keep the house strictly emotional?
  • Do you want to keep it because your soon-to-be-ex wants it and you want it out of spite?
  • Do you want to keep it so the children will have that one constant in their lives amid the divorce?
  • Did you work hard on renovating the house yourself?
  • Do you just not want to...
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Social Security Benefits for Divorced Spouses

There is a great deal of confusion around Social Security benefits under the most straightforward circumstances. When it comes to social security benefits for divorced spouses, it's even more complicated.

First, it's important to note that social security is not divisible as an asset in a divorce. However, you may still be able to collect on your ex-spouse's work record. For many, social security is a crucial source of income in retirement, so it's essential to understand the rules for planning purposes.

Related post: What Everyone Ought to Know About Divorce and Retirement Accounts 

Spousal Social Security Benefits for Divorced Spouses

After you are divorced, if you were married for ten years or longer, you might still be eligible for your spousal benefit on your ex-spouse’s record. You're eligible if you meet the following criteria: 

  • You are unmarried, and you are age 62 or older;
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or...
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3 Mindset Shifts to Make as You Prepare for Mediation

The following is a guest post written by Erica N. Reed, LCSW-C. Additional information about Erica can be found below.

As you planned the wedding ceremony and created your life together, the last thing you anticipated was scheduling a meeting to dissolve the marriage.  Whether the marriage had been in turmoil for a while, or you were caught off guard by the request for separation, women who are in the process of separation and divorce are on an emotional roller coaster and are simply trying to find stable footing.

Experiencing anger, sadness, hurt, fear, and resentment are to be expected during this time.   It’s very typical.  However, when entering mediation, these emotions can sabotage a successful outcome.

Here are three mindset shifts that are important for you to address as you prepare for mediation with your spouse.

Embrace Calm

Do you remember that emotional roller coaster I spoke about?  I’m sure you...

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How much spousal support will I get?

If your spouse is the primary earner, you're probably very concerned about how you're going to make ends meet after your divorce. Can you afford to stay in the house? Can you cover all of your bills? Will you have to get another job?

In fact, it's one of the most common questions I get - is there alimony in Ohio? Am I eligible? How much spousal support will I get? How long will I get it for?

It's also one of the most emotionally charged topics we deal with in divorce. For the one who needs alimony, they are depending on it to maintain their standard of living. On the flip side, do you really want to depend on your ex after your divorce is final?

If you are the primary earner, you're probably wondering if you'll have to pay spousal support. If so, how much and for how long? It would be easy to say, "The state provides a simple calculation." In Ohio, that isn't the case. Because there is no formula, it's a very gray area that is negotiated in every case.

First off, what is spousal...

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What is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst?

Dealing with a divorce is a stress beyond compare for many people. When you add to that the emotional stress of complicated financial issues that arise during this time, it is crucial to enlist professional help to assure your money questions are addressed during the divorce. One person who can take a weight off your shoulders is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA).

Consider that nearly one million couples will divorce annually in the United States, and during that time, they will be faced with some of the most important financial decisions of their lives; this could be especially true for women who have not been involved in the family finances up until this point. Your divorce attorney will handle the legal aspects of the divorce, but you may find you will reap a great reward from working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.

What does a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst do?

A CDFA is an experienced financial professional who helps people...

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401K in Divorce: A Tip That Can Save You Thousands

There are many expensive financial mistakes that are commonly made when people are going through a divorce. It makes sense. Emotions are running high and it's common not to want to engage a financial professional if you are already paying legal fees. That said, the cost of a financial professional relative to the amount they can save you in financial mistakes is minimal. One of the most common financial mistakes I see is how money is withdrawn from a traditional pre-tax 401K in a divorce.

NOTE: I want to be clear that I'm not talking about just any retirement account here. There is a lot of confusion when I'm talking with clients about types of accounts. In this post, I am specifically referring to a pre-tax 401K account that is still held with an employer (not one that has been rolled into an IRA).

Unfortunately, going through a divorce leaves many people completely cash-strapped. While not ideal, if you have not built up enough liquid savings, you might be considering a withdrawal...

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How To Calculate Ohio Child Support

UPDATE: OHIO IMPLEMENTED NEW CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES ON MARCH 28, 2019. THE RESOURCES BELOW REFLECT THESE CHANGES.

For those who have minor children at the time of a divorce, one party or the other will likely be paying child support (unless they genuinely share parenting 50/50 and make about the same amount of money). Child support is paid until the child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens last. There is some grey area when it comes to how to calculate child support in Ohio.

Why Calculating Ohio Child Support is Not Black and White

Many people think that Child Support calculations are black and white. In some cases, that may be. However, there are many cases in which the calculation can be a little more complicated. The State of Ohio offers worksheets as well as a manual for how to determine the appropriate inputs for the calculations. Links to the resources are below.

At the most basic level, child support is calculated based on the...

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QDRO: I need a what??

What does QDRO stand for anyway?

QDRO stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Order. If part of your divorce settlement includes a division of retirement assets held with a current or former employer, you may need a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) or similar document, depending on the retirement plan. A QDRO is a document that gets filed with the plan administrator that tells the plan how the account will be divided.

A Costly Mistake

One of the mistakes that I see people make when dividing assets, is simply dividing each account down the middle. Seems like it would be fair, right? While it might be fair, it may also cause you to incur more costs than you would, if you were a little more creative about your settlement.

There are a couple of costs to consider. There is a cost to having someone draft the QDRO, which generally ranges from $450-$1000. Additionally, each plan charges an administrative fee on their side as well. That fee generally...

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