Marital property is known as property that belongs to both spouses in a marriage. This includes any possessions both the spouses have obtained during their marriage such as real property (houses, holiday homes, land etc.) or cars, furniture, businesses etc. if an object or property is obtained as a gift from one spouse to the other or from a third person to either one of the spouses, it is not considered marital property. Similarly, if a spouse obtained an object or property before the marriage it is considered their own separate property even if they sell it to buy another object during the marriage. For example, if a spouse owns a boat prior to the marriage and sells it during the marriage to buy a car, the car is considered their separate property.
The state of Maryland is not a marital property state; however, it is considered an equitable distribution state. This means that the court in Maryland does not always divide marital properties by exactly half as long as the division is considered fair by the court. For example, if one spouse earns significantly more than the other spouse and so contributed more to the marriage financially, this may cause the court to divide the properties in a way that rewards the higher-paid spouse for their contribution. This situation is not valid if one spouse quit their job to become a stay-at-home parent or a household caretaker. Marital misconduct is also considered when dividing property. If the spouse with the higher income commits adultery which thereby effectively destroys the marriage, the judge may not consider it fair to divide the property in a way that rewards the unfaithful spouse and causes the innocent spouse to suffer for the unfaithful spouse’s actions.
In Maryland, if the property is purchased over time with periodic payments made, the state defines this as an acquired property. Determining whether an acquired property is marital or separate property is based on the source of the money that was used to make the payments. For example, if a spouse buys a house before the marriage and solely pays the mortgage, the property is initially considered separate property. However, if after the marriage, the mortgage payments are made by both spouses or from a marital fund, the house becomes marital property.
If funds that are considered both marital and non-marital are combined and used to purchase or make payments on a property, there is no way to directly trace the source of the payment back to where it was obtained (marital or non-marital). When funds that cannot be directly traced back to their source are used to buy property, this property is considered marital property.
In Maryland, if a spouse uses or sells marital property for their own advantage during the period of time where the marriage is coming to an end or during a divorce trial, it is considered waste or dissipation. If a court discovers that a spouse has wasted any martial property, it will consider the property’s existence during the division as part of the dissipating spouse’s portion. This is to prevent spouses from wasting any marital properties.
If you need a Maryland Marital Property Lawyer to help you with your Marital Property case in Maryland, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland Marital Property Attorneys can help you.