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Inter Vivos Gifts in Divorce in Ohio

Divorce proceedings can be complex and emotionally charged, often involving the division of assets acquired during the marriage. One aspect that adds an extra layer of complexity is the treatment of inter vivos gifts – gifts given between living individuals. In the state of Ohio, understanding the implications of inter vivos gifts in divorce is crucial for both spouses. This blog post aims to shed light on this often-overlooked aspect of divorce proceedings in Ohio.

Understanding Inter Vivos Gifts:

Inter vivos gifts, also known as lifetime gifts, are transfers of property or assets made during a person's lifetime. These gifts are distinct from testamentary gifts, which are made through a will and take effect only after the donor's death. In a divorce context, inter vivos gifts can complicate the division of assets, as they may be subject to different rules than other marital property.

Ohio's Equitable Distribution System:

Ohio follows the equitable distribution system when dividing marital property during a divorce. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal distribution; rather, it involves a fair and just allocation of assets and liabilities based on various factors. While marital property is generally subject to division, separate property remains with the spouse who owns it.

Treatment of Inter Vivos Gifts:

In Ohio, inter vivos gifts are typically considered separate property, meaning they may not be subject to division in a divorce. However, several factors can influence how these gifts are treated:

  1. Intent of the Donor:

  • The donor's intent at the time of the gift is crucial. If it can be established that the gift was intended to be separate property, it strengthens the argument for excluding it from the marital estate.

  1. Commingling of Assets:

  • If the gifted property becomes commingled with marital assets, it may lose its separate property status. For instance, if funds from a gifted bank account are mixed with joint accounts, the court may treat the entire amount as marital property.

  1. Enhancement of Marital Assets:

  • If the gifted property contributed to the enhancement of marital assets or was used for the benefit of the marriage, it might be subject to division.

  1. Documentation:

  • Proper documentation of the gift, such as a written agreement or clear evidence of the donor's intent, can strengthen the case for treating the gift as separate property.


Navigating the treatment of inter vivos gifts in a divorce in Ohio requires a thorough understanding of the state's laws and a careful examination of the circumstances surrounding the gifts. While these gifts are generally considered separate property, various factors can influence their treatment during the equitable distribution process. Seeking legal advice and guidance is crucial to ensuring a fair and just resolution in divorce proceedings involving inter vivos gifts.


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