Maryland court divides marital property based on the law of equitable distribution. This means that the division is fair but not necessarily equal. Some spouses may come to an agreement on their own and the court will honour that. However, this isn’t always the case and spouses might have to resort to the court to divide their marital property. The judge will divide it in a way he or she sees as fair.
The first step in the division process is distinguishing whether the assets is separate or martial. If spouses have signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement then it distinguishes it for them. Marital property includes all of the assets and debts the spouses have acquired during their marriage. Unless there is an agreement between the couple, then assets held by the couple as “tenants by the entireties” is considered as marital property. Assets is separate if the partner acquired it before the marriage or received it as a gift or inheritance during the marriage.
In some cases, marital property and separate assets are mixed together in what is called commingling. For example, both spouses may contribute to the payment of a mortgage one spouse took out on a house before the marriage. In this case, the court will apply the “source of funds” rule. This determines the value of the marital property and separate assets in proportion to the contributions each party made. This is an extremely complicated situation and hiring an attorney is advised. If parties aren’t able to agree on what belongs to whom, then the judge will have to divide the separate and marital property.
In Maryland, after the court has established what is marital property, either the couple or the court will assign a monetary value to each item. It is recommended the couple seeks the help of a professional appraiser when determining the value of each item. This is because financial martial assets such as retirement accounts can be very difficult to evaluate and may require the help of a professional.
Spouses can divide marital property by assigning certain items to each spouse or by selling the assets and dividing the profits. They can also agree to own assets together. Maryland law sometimes allows one partner to keep items such as the family home, furniture or vehicle for up to 3 years or until the person keeping these items remarries. The couple must divide any debt accrued during the marriage. This includes mortgages, car loans, and credit card debts to one of the parties.
If couples cannot come to an agreement over how marital property will be divided then they will seek help from a third party such as a judge or arbitrator. A Maryland court will consider the following factors on deciding what kind of assets division is fair:
- The length of the marriage.
- The age, health and physical and mental condition of each spouse.
- Whether a spouse is receiving alimony or is benefiting from the use of the marital home or other marital property.
- What has each spouse contributed to the marriage? Either domestically or financially.
- Each spouses contribution of separate property which was then held by the couple as tenants by the entirety.
- How and when each spouse acquired specific property.
- What grounds is the divorce being filed on.
If you need a Maryland divorce lawyer to help you with your divorce in Maryland, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland divorce attorneys can help you. B