Common Questions on Property Division
What does “community property” mean?
Maryland is not a community property state. In states that have community property law, each spouse has a half interest in most property acquired during the marriage. The court can then use its discretion in regards to the distribution of marital assets. Maryland instead has an “equitable distribution statute”, which means that the court is not obligated to equally divide property between spouses. In most cases, though, each spouse is awarded half of the marital property.
How are the values of property determined?
The value of some assets like bank accounts are usually not disputed. However, the value of other assets such as homes, personal property or pensions are most likely to be disputed if your case proceeds to trial. Your spouse may also have certain property appraised by an expert. In some cases, it may be necessary to have an appraiser appear at trial to give testimony regarding the appraisal and the value of the asset.
What happens if both spouses want to keep the same marital property?
When both spouses want to keep the same marital property, the courts first determine who will retain exclusive use and possession of the family home in order to keep children in a stable environment. A court may award temporary possession of the family home during litigation and then use in possession for up to 3 years following the divorce. A court may also order the transfer of a home to one of the parties or even order that it be sold. Get to know and discuss the options available if both of you wish to keep the marital property.
Is money from an inheritance considered marital or separate property?
When dividing the marital estate, the court may consider the fact that one spouse is allowed to keep non marital assets like an inheritance. You are entitled to keep your inheritance if it has been kept separate from marital assets, it is titled in your name only, if it has not been commingled with marital assets, and more. It is not likely that a party will be entitled to the full inheritance if its origin cannot be traced, if a spouse’s name has been placed on the title, and more. If keeping your inheritance is important to you, speak to your attorney about the information needed to build your case.
Is appreciation on a separate mutual account deemed marital property?
It depends. In many cases, the court will allow a party to retain an asset brought into marriage but will consider a few questions in making its determination. Watch to find out what those questions are.
What if there is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, or a premarital agreement, is a contract entered between two people prior to a marriage. It can include provisions for how assets and debts will be divided in the event a marriage is terminated or one spouse dies, as well as terms involving child support and alimony. Find out how a prenuptial agreement might affect you.
How is marital debt typically divided on divorce in Maryland?
Debts are normally assigned to the party in whose name they are held, although the court will consider the marital debt when dividing property. They take this debt into consideration when determining the evaluation of the assets. There are also other debts which can be factored in when determining the monetary award.
What if one spouse doesn’t believe the property division is fair?
When parties are not able to agree on the division of property, a settlement on the property cannot be reached. Therefore, the property division is left to the discretion of the Court. Learn about modifications based on the change in circumstances vs an appeal to a higher Court.
How can someone be sure to get a fair share of their spouse's business?
You need to develop a strategy. If you or your spouse own a business, it is important that you work with your attorney early in your case to develop a strategy for valuing the business and making your case for how it should be treated in the division of property and debts. Many factors determine whether a client will get a share of their spouse’s business and in what form they might receive it.
Contact the Rockville and Frederick family law attorneys of Fait & DiLima, LLP today to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal needs. Email our firm or call 301-888-6384. We have offices in Rockville and Frederick; both are conveniently located near the courthouses.
Dorothy R. Fait & Marjorie G. DiLima are Published Authors of Divorce In Maryland: The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect (2017)
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