Business Valuations Blog

Divorce Business Valuation Case Study: Tracing Assets During Divorce

Situation

When a couple gets divorced, their assets are typically divided between them. Under Ohio law, the assets of each spouse in a pending divorce may be classified as either "marital" property (divided between the couple) or "separate" property (retained by the owning spouse) depending on the source of funds used to obtain the assets and the ability to trace the use of those separate funds to the assets in question.  When claiming that certain property is separate and not marital, the burden of proof lies on the party claiming that the specific assets are separate property.  In order to determine and prove which assets were marital and separate in a pending divorce, Skoda Minotti was engaged to provide tracing services to determine a spouse’s separate property among the couple’s assets.

Skoda Minotti Solution

While marital assets are included in the estate, the value of separate assets is excluded from the assets to be equitably divided between the parties.  Simple examples of “separate” assets include shares of stock gifted to a spouse from his/her parents during the marriage or a rental property purchased before the marriage. In this case, Skoda Minotti identified each of the assets that each spouse owned and outlined a list of acceptable documents which would sufficiently enable counsel to prove the existence of certain assets as separate property.  We then traced how each spouse obtained ownership interests in specific assets to supporting documentation, evidenced how and when those assets were obtained, and followed these assets through the date of the pending divorce mediation.  The tracing analysis in this case covered a fourteen-year period.

Results

Of the six assets that Skoda Minotti examined in this matter, three were determined to be separate property.  The value of the separate assets was approximately $750,000, which was excluded from the couple’s marital estate for purposes of dividing the marital assets between them, allowing the owner of the separate property to retain $375,000 of value ($750,000 / 2) that would have otherwise been assigned to the other spouse as a marital asset.

Have a question about asset tracing? Post a comment below or contact our Divorce Business Valuation specialists at 440-449-6800.

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