Written By: Law offices of Zoller | Biacsi
Many people facing a divorce and an allocation-equitable division of their property mistakenly believe that the way a particular piece of property, a car, a time share or a vacation home is titled determines who will be awarded the item. Often the spouse who is not actively engaged in a business believes that since the stock or membership interest in the business is in the other spouse’s name, that spouse must necessarily be awarded the business.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The way or the name in which an item is titled is important because the method by which the property is divided will have to address the way the item is titled. But, Domestic Relations courts have broad discretion about what they can do to retitle property. In many cases, it is almost irrelevant how a car or a parcel of real estate might be titled. Courts have equitable powers to compel the transfer of title from one spouse to another and to make adjustments or offsets out of other items to make up for the value left in an item titled only to one spouse.
When one spouse has a disproportionately large share of the assets and claims that much of the property is his or her separate or pre-marital property, Courts again have discretion to make what is known as a distributive award to one spouse out of the other spouse’s separate or pre-marital property. While distributive awards do not happen easily or frequently, they remain an effective tool in the Judge’s tool box to affect an equitable outcome when the property is titled in only one spouse’s name. For more information or to discuss your particular circumstances, call Zoller | Biacsi at 216-241-2200 to schedule an appointment with one of our partners.