Maryland state law dictates what is included in marital property, and how it must be divided should a couple divorce. Here, the family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law Group provide a brief overview of how division of marital property is handled in the state of Maryland.
Non-Marital vs. Marital Property
Typically any property that an individual receives or acquires prior to their marriage is considered “non-marital” property, and will remain the property of the individual in the event of divorce. Property gifted to one spouse during the marriage, as well as inherited property and property excluded by a written, signed agreement is also considered “non-marital property.” Non-marital property may be used or sold in any way the owner sees fit. A couple may seek joint ownership of property during or after their marriage through a written and signed agreement, or a transfer of title. Debts associated with the acquisition of marital property, may be considered in the division of property.
Marital property includes any property earned, saved or acquired during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled (to both parties jointly or to one party only) or who paid for it. Marital property can include bank accounts, vehicles, real estate, furniture, jewelry, pensions, retirement funds, stocks, bonds, income, and more. The value of a professional degree or license is usually not considered marital property.
Property can also be considered partially marital, and partially non-marital. A home that was purchased by a couple prior to their marriage would be considered non-marital property; however, if marital funds were used to pay the mortgage during their marriage, it would then be considered partially marital property.
Division of Marital Property
If a divorcing couple can create a fair and equitable marital settlement agreement, they might not need to involve the court in the division of their property. However, a couple that cannot come to an agreement on how marital property should be divided will then be subject to the governance of the Marital Property Act. In Maryland, any marital property must be divided by equitable distribution—property may not necessarily be divided equally between the parties.
Once the court has determined what counts as marital property, they will then place a value on the property. There are then several factors the court uses to determine how the property may be equitably divided. These factors may include the contributions of each spouse to acquiring the property and maintaining the well-being of the family, as well as each spouse’s property interests, economic circumstances, efforts to acquire the property, contribution to the dissolution of the marriage, age and health. Other pertinent details about the acquisition of the property may also be considered. The court’s division of property can be complex, and an attorney should always be consulted should a spouse have property interests.
Property titled to one spouse cannot be transferred by the court to the other spouse. However, a monetary award based on the value of the property may be granted to the spouse who does not own the property, in order to create an equitable division. Spouses may also transfer property by agreement between themselves without the court overseeing the transaction.
The Importance of Having A Lawyer When Dividing Marital Property
Rodier Family Law has been assisting their clients throughout their divorce proceedings for years, bringing the skill and experience necessary to help individuals make it successfully through this stressful and difficult time. A dedicated family law attorney is critical to ensuring that your rights and needs are taken into consideration and addressed, whether by a court or through settlement negotiations. If you are considering a divorce, we invite you to contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with our office.