Bethany Dria, Business Valuation Senior Associate 


The legal language used during the process of a divorce can be unclear for individuals.  “Separate property” is often one of the confusing concepts used by courts and attorneys but is also critical to the process.  The Ohio Revised Code 3105.171 states “Equitable division of marital and separate property – distributive award” and defines several terms used in legal context during a divorce.  In more relatable terms, separate property consists of three key aspects:

  1. Property held by one spouse prior to marriage – what you had going into the marriage.
  2. A gift or inheritance received by one spouse during the marriage.
  3. Proceeds from either of the above received during the marriage.

Why is this so important?

Separate property represents your individual wealth that can be shielded from the claim of a spouse during divorce.  The goal of separate property claims during a divorce helps to preserve your wealth and is protected under the law.

So how do you document separate property?

The best case is documentation at the time or receipt of any real estate, property, or investments. This means:

  • Keep copies of statements for investment accounts and bank accounts for the month prior to marriage.
  • When you receive a gift or inheritance, document the value, what was received, and what you did with it.
  • Most important – keep it separate! If the assets/separate property have been co-mingled with marital property and cannot be traceable, it is no longer separate property.  While you may know the value, if the gift was deposited into a marital checking account and can’t be traced through independent documentation – you are at risk of losing that property – your wealth!

What can you do NOW?

As with most areas of the courts and legal system – the best course of action is to hire a trained expert.  The expert will be able to guide you through what records may be needed, how to obtain those records and building your case for protecting what is rightfully and legally yours.  There are many nuances and aspects of tracking separate property that may not be evident to those who don’t specialize in separate property claims.  While domestic relations attorneys are familiar with separate property, hiring a specialized expert in tracing and documentation within the divorce and dissolution process will be an added value to your legal situation.

Apple Growth Partners can help.  We have a team of domestic relations experts to help you track and defend your separate property and help you preserve your wealth!