Dodaro v. Dodaro, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 18AP-714, 2019-Ohio-4864 (November 26, 2019)

Issue: Did the trial court err when it determined money contributed to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) during the marriage was marital property when there was no indication that it was separate property?

Decision: In this case, the Tenth District Court of Appeals of Ohio determined the trial court did not err. The Husband in this case had an IRA and made a contribution of $12,000 to that account during the marriage. The trial court found that Husband did not know, and certainly did not document, the source of the $12,000 contribution. Accordingly, the court ruled the $12,000 contribution, plus gains/losses, was marital in nature and assigned a portion of that amount to Wife.

On appeal, Husband claimed, although the $12,000 was deposited to the IRA during the marriage, the funds came from his separate property. However, the Tenth District held that, in light of Husband’s failure to clearly account for the separate property, the trial court did not err in determining the $12,000, plus gains/losses, was marital property.

Discussion: This case is an example of what many courts, including those in Ohio, determine—that the party seeking to prove property is separate bears the burden of proof. See Schulman, Kelley, & Kelley, Dividing Pensions in Divorce, Section 6.01 (2019 Supplement to the 3d Ed.); see also Zimon v. Zimon, 9th Dist. Medina No. 04CA0034-M, 2005 Ohio 271, ¶ 16, citing Peck v. Peck, 96 Ohio App.3d 731, 734, 645 N.E.2d 1300 (12th Dist.1994).

As the Husband in this case failed to carry his burden of proof, the funds in question were found to be marital property.

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