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What is “Marital Property’ and How is it Divided in Maryland?

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Property division during divorce can be a hot button topic for spouses.  Here is what you need to know about dividing assets and property during divorce.

Maryland follows a rule of equitable distribution when considering the property of individuals getting a divorce.  By this rule, the courts try to make fair-minded decisions concerning property, assets, and financial support.  While the court may not be able to force a title transfer on property, the court can make an overall financial award to ensure each spouse is awarded a balanced share of their marital value.

With that in mind, it is important to remember that you and your partner do not need to rely on a court to divide your property.  You can work with each other, with attorneys, or with a mediator to develop a satisfying and fair agreement to equitably divide your property.  Prior to being granted an absolute divorce, the court will review and usually approve agreements arrived at between couples concerning division of their assets.

Marital and non marital property—the difference between “yours and ours”

Unless proven otherwise, almost all the property and assets acquired by a couple during marriage is called “marital property,” or the “marital estate.”  This is property, financial accounts, retirement accounts, homes, automobiles, and other goods and investment tools acquired during your marriage—including the family pet.

When it comes to deciding who gets what, a question sometimes arises as to whether a property or an object is part of the marital estate.  Property generally considered as non marital (or belonging outright to one spouse) includes belongings or assets that can be directly traced to one of these circumstances:

  • Value or property that was received as an inheritance or a gift from a relative or others
  • Property that was acquired by one spouse prior to marriage
  • Assets or property that are the subject of a valid pre-nuptial agreement

Non marital property can sometimes become marital property when its value is comingled with the marital estate.  For example, an inheritance received by one spouse is rolled into an investment account owned jointly by the couple and used for marital needs.  The joint ownership and use of the funds could be seen as the transfer of a non marital asset into a marital asset.

Deciding who gets what in Maryland

In almost all cases, it is better for a couple to work collaboratively with outside resources such as skilled divorce attorneys or a mediator to come to decisions about who receives what asset or value.

While the property division must still be equitable, it is more likely that both parties may come away from the divorce with the assets, value, or property that they really want.  When decisions are left to a court, the judge relies on factors to assist in making a fair distribution, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Age and capabilities of each party
  • Value and contributions brought to the marriage by each spouse, including debt
  • Conditions and circumstances that led to the marriage breakdown, and other factors

If you can, work with your spouse and an attorney or others to help you divide your assets equitably.  When that is not possible, a skilled divorce lawyer in Baltimore can work with you and the court to reach a fair distribution on your behalf.

Contact an experienced domestic law attorney in Baltimore today

With offices in Stevenson, the Law Offices of Allyson B. Goldscher, LLC serves individuals and families throughout Baltimore and Baltimore County.  When you have questions about property division, child custody, or divorce, contact us to schedule an appointment and discuss your situation.