Can My Wife in Maryland Take Back Gifts She Gave Me if We Divorce

In Maryland divorce and family law, a wife cannot get back the gifts she gives to her husband if there is a divorce. Gifts given between husband and wife sometimes become a threat in Annapolis, Maryland family, and divorce law negotiations leading up to a separation agreement.  If a wife gives a husband a Rolex watch.  He loves it. He may well hear that she wants it as part of her property settlement.  Sometimes people do this to be vindictive.  Sometimes they do it to gain some leverage on some under issue.  But, it is not much of a threat unless its value is huge.

In Maryland family and divorce law, Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage except by gift or inheritance from a third party.  Gifts given by one spouse to the other are “marital property.”  They are owned, however, by the recipient of the gift. Gifts are not jointly owned.  A divorce does not change who owns the property. But…

The value of the gift goes in the equation of who owes what to whom in the property division but the gift giver cannot get it back.  And the burden of proof its value to go into the equation is on the person who wants to include it.  So, if your wife wants to include the beloved Rolex, your wife has to prove its fair market value.  The fair market value is what it would sell for now, on the open market, not what was paid for it. Often, expert witnesses or appraisals are required if the gift is extremely valuable.

If your spouse is saying she will take back the Rolex watch or the tennis bracelet….well they are just blowing smoke as that cannot happen.

Resolve To Be Professional, Focused During Property Division

Both men and women experience financial challenges during and after divorce. Property division is certainly not the easiest aspect of a breakup, as many attorneys and divorcees will openly admit. If you are planning to pursue a divorce in 2014, it may make sense to make some “resolutions” regarding your finances during the split.

Spouses who are calling it quits should remember to be vigilant during the property division phase of their divorce, and they may also benefit from relying on professional advice. Making a few simple resolutions about your finances may make it much easier to divide property obtained during the marriage.

Both members of a couple should start by getting organized with important financial statements. You can separate this process into smaller, easier tasks by focusing on a single type of account at one time. Remember to obtain year-end statements for all of your accounts, loans, and even tax returns. All of these documents should be properly organized and stored in a secure location that is completely inaccessible to your spouse.

Men and women can also benefit from taking a close look at the documents used during property division, as one spouse may be attempting to thwart equitable division by hiding assets. Both parties should be required to play fair when property division is being discussed; people who attempt to shield their assets during divorce can even be charged with criminal violations.

Finally, Maryland divorcing spouses are encouraged to keep their emotions in check while divvying up marital property. Although you may feel attached to certain property obtained during the marriage, remember that your financial health should take precedence at this point. Your emotions will have their turn; during property division, however, you must remain businesslike and maintain a financial focus.

Even though property division is often a complicated matter, you and your ex can expedite the process by being completely transparent about marital property. It may take some time to secure a fair division of bank accounts and other assets, but dedication to detail and fairness during this process may be one of the most important parts of your breakup.

Source: Forbes, “Five Concrete Resolutions For Women Divorcing In 2014” Jeff Landers, Jan. 16, 2014

Maryland Senator Facing Property Division in Impending Divorce

The wife of a state senator in Maryland is seeking a divorce from her husband, alleging that he had an extramarital affair with a political aide in her 20s. The man, age 64, is accused of committing adultery with the 26-year-old woman, who was employed by his political team in 2010 and 2011; it is not clear exactly when the affair began. In some states – or if couples have agreed to such provisions in a prenup – infidelity may affect the way property division is handled during a breakup.

The politician, Richard Colburn, is taking steps to limit the number of eyes that can pry into the divorce case, as the legal proceedings may harm his political career and financial standing. In this case, the politician says he fears extortion or blackmail that could accompany the property division phase of his divorce; thus, he wants the information to remain private. The man and his wife do not have any children, which could simplify some aspects of the divorce. It is not clear whether the pair will be forced to pursue a complex property division, as news reports have not mentioned any business holdings, large inheritances or other, similar assets.

Many Maryland residents may be under the impression that adultery changes the way in which property is divided during a divorce proceeding. In most cases, infidelity does not play a role in the equitable division of marital holdings, however. Prenuptial agreements may include stipulations about property division after an extramarital affair, but most states have abandoned previous provisions that would have given the aggrieved spouse a financial advantage. Clients who are looking to dissolve their marriage after infidelity should still consult with a qualified family attorney to discuss their legal and financial options.

Source:, “Sen. Colburn’s wife files for divorce, alleging relationship with former aide” Jennifer Shutt, Jan. 03, 2014

Divorce in The New Year Advantageous for Property Division

We are in the midst of the holiday season now, but January is fast approaching. For many Marylanders, a new year can bring a new perspective on marriage – and ultimately can also lead to divorce. January is usually a time for new beginnings, and a large number of couples do choose to split up during this time of year. A variety of emotional, social, and property division factors can weigh heavily in this decision, according to family law experts.

One of the more pragmatic reasons for divorce in January: Your company bonus check has already been put in the bank. If you wait until the first of the year to file divorce paperwork, it can be easier to handle complex matters related to your finances. Waiting until January can assure that this check is labeled as marital property, which means that each person could be entitled to a share. In many states, filing for bankruptcy effectively stops the accrual of marital property, so it often makes financial sense to wait to file.

Further, waiting for the end of the tax year can make a big difference in the quality of your divorce. It can be difficult to act in a rational and fair manner about finances when your tax burden is uncertain. Couples should be sure to plan major decisions, such as which parent can use the tax exemptions for children. You will have a full year to determine your filing status and prepare for the financial changes that lie ahead.

Financial matters related to divorce can make a difference in your future quality of life. Family law attorneys and financial professionals may be able to explain legal options for tax benefits and the division of marital property. These individuals can help clients handle complex matters about property and business division, helping both parties move on to their post-divorce lives faster.

Source: Huffington Post, “Three Reasons Why January May Be the Best Time to File for Divorce” Bari Zell Weinberger, Dec. 11, 2013

Spouses Urged to Aid Property Division by Keeping Their Jobs

In today’s modern society, both men and women are free to quit their jobs to stay at home with the kids. For some Maryland residents, this plays out for the best in the long term – but the decision can be disastrous for others. When it comes down to property division during divorce, how do you intend to make ends meet? Experts in the field say that both men and women should do some serious thinking about whether they are prepared for the ramifications of choosing to be a stay-at-home spouse.

Scores of stories and anecdotes support the fact that exiting the job market early can make life far more difficult down the road. Men and women alike have found themselves with very few business assets as they head into their divorce – those assets include marketable skills that will help them make money. As you go through the property division phase of your divorce, it is important for you to remember that you may have special rights as a stay-at-home parent. Dividing property in a fair and rational matter is critical to your post-divorce success.

First, individuals who have stayed at home for several years may be entitled to alimony or other types of support that can help them get back on their feet. If you have been out of the job market for a long time, it is possible that you need more education in order to be competitive and support yourself alone, especially in this down economy. A qualified divorce attorney can handle complex matters like alimony and child support, both of which can ease the burdens of a former stay-at-home spouse.

Even those who are happily married can benefit from taking stock of their personal assets and career options. Although we hope the unthinkable never happens, divorce is a reality for many Maryland couples. Both spouses need to be prepared to support themselves and their children independently if the need arises.

Source:, “Married ladies: Don’t quit your day job – ever” Pauline Gaines, Dec. 01, 2013

NFL Franchise Owner Headed for Divorce

Property division is sometimes the most challenging aspect of a divorce. The discovery and disclosure of assets can be difficult, especially if you have not revisited your financial accounts and holdings for a long period of time. High-asset divorce in Maryland can be fraught with even more obstacles, as couples seek additional help for business assets and property disputes. That makes it all the more impressive when a celebrity couple can execute a quick split in a rational and fair manner.

News reports show that the owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts football team, which was once based in Baltimore, will be divorcing his wife of 33 years. Jim Irsay and his wife Meg had been separated for about a decade, but they have finally decided to formally dissolve their marriage.

The Irsays say that the ownership of the Colts will not be jeopardized in the divorce. Jim has full ownership and control of the team. The couple’s three daughters are all considered vice chairs/owners of the team. The Colts are one of the NFL’s most valuable franchises, with an estimated worth of $1.6 billion. Jim Irsay also ranks high on the personal wealth scale, named number 342 on the Forbes top 400 list in 2012. His personal fortune totals about $1.68 billion.

The divorce petition has not indicated whether the case will proceed to litigation, but it appears that the couple intends to pursue an amicable split. Meg says she will continue with her own career and maintain a strong relationship with the family, while Jim has told the media that he is committed to building the Colts franchise.

Even in cases of high-asset property division, couples can work together amicably to reach an appropriate agreement. No matter how much property you are dividing in your Maryland divorce, a qualified family attorney can help you learn more about your individual rights. This will allow you to maximize the outcome of your divorce case.

Source:, “Wife of Colts owner Jim Irsay files for divorce” Mike Chappell, Nov. 21, 2013

Maryland Spouses Hide Assets During Property Division

One of the most important parts of a Maryland divorce is the negotiation for the distribution of marital assets. Even though many Maryland couples are honest during this process, disclosing all of their holdings and financial assets, some choose to be less than forthcoming when property division is at stake. Spouses are often able to hide business assets and other holdings, which can lead to property disputes during the divorce. Experts say there are a few ways to guarantee that your spouse is being honest during the property division phase of your split.

The easiest document for reviewing and identifying errors is the tax return. Check these returns and 1099 forms to evaluate holdings in Maryland and other bank accounts. Brokerage accounts with dividends may also fall into this category. Sometimes, spouses attempt to hide earnings they have obtained through investment accounts. A simple evaluation of tax records should reveal any dishonesty.

Other financial documents can also provide clues about your spouse’s financial picture. In some cases, these exes fail to fess up to their asset holdings in the financial affidavit, so it is important to double-check statements and pay stubs to ensure your spouse is being honest. You can check public records to find out whether your spouse holds any real estate that has not been disclosed, for example. You should also check your ex’s employment records for income, benefits, stock options and retirement provisions that could impact property division during the divorce.

One of the best tools in an attorneys’ arsenal is the ability to depose a spouse. This means that your ex will be under oath and must tell the truth about his or her true financial picture. If your spouse lies during the deposition, perjury charges could result. At that time, your ex can be approached with suspicious documents. He or she must tell the truth about these statements or risk criminal sanctions.

Do not accept your spouse’s financial affidavit without question. Instead, consider double-checking these and other documents to ensure that you get a fair share of your joint marital property.

Source:, “Discovering hidden assets: What your spouse hasn’t disclosed during your divorce” Bonnie Sockel-Stone, Oct. 30, 2013

Preparing For Retirement During Divorce

The divorce rate for American couples over 50 has doubled since 1990. For many older Maryland couples, the implications of divorce and subsequent property division look very different from those who are divorcing during their younger years. One of the most hotly contested assets in such so-called “Grey Divorces” is the retirement account. Improper approaches to dividing retirement assets can result in serious financial consequences, so taking the time for discovery and disclosure of assets is absolutely necessary.

When considering which assets to pursue, remember that sentimentality can get in your way. Do not become overly attached to your car or your home, for example, as those ties can lead you into poor financial decisions. Divorce also provides a great excuse for revamping and examining your existing insurance policies, allowing you to look toward the future with confidence. Even though divorce can seem scary, it provides a great opportunity for restarting your financial life on your own terms.

Older divorcing couples should remember that they are looking for long-term security in the assets they choose during the split. Start thinking about your financial goals for five, or even 10, years in the future. In some instances, couples choose to simply split assets half-and-half, without considering the nature of those holdings. Instead of accepting a cash settlement, for example, consider negotiating for a share of a pension. The long-term security that accompanies a pension can be far more beneficial than a lump of liquid assets.

After you have split your assets, you must start reviewing your income and budget. Are you going to be required to pay alimony or child support? Will your income change because of the divorce? Financial planners and experts can help divorcees understand more about the implications of these major life changes.

Legal and financial experts can provide additional advice about asset management and property division during divorce. These professionals can set you up for future financial success by guiding you toward the best property division decisions.

Source:, “Saving your retirement from a divorce” Greg Brown, Oct. 21, 2013

Who Gets The Rings in a Divorce?

Who knew that a little metal circle could cause so many problems? The fact remains that engagement rings are among the most hotly contested items during the property division phase of modern divorce. Men, you might be surprised to learn that it is extraordinarily unlikely that you will be able to recover the ring, even if you are still paying off the purchase. Although laws differ throughout Maryland and other states, the consensus remains that the engagement ring is generally awarded to the woman in a breakup.

There are two major rules that are used to determine who gets the engagement ring if a breakup occurs before marriage. The majority of states dictate that fault determines entitlement – especially if you break off the engagement. That means that if the man cheated on the woman, he will not be able to recover the ring. In some other jurisdictions, the ring is seen as a token that indicates a promise. In those cases, the woman fails to fulfill her promise if she breaks off the engagement, so the ring is returned to the man.

Other states confirm that the engagement ring is simply a gift that does not have to be returned. This can only be bypassed during divorce if the ring is a family heirloom. That is, if the man is allowing his future bride to use his grandmother’s wedding ring, it is not considered a gift and must be returned.

Both partners would also be wise to remember that jewelry and other big-ticket items given during marriage are still considered gifts that do not need to be returned during a divorce. So, wives who get upgraded wedding bands after five years of marriage do not have to return the ring after the divorce. Other property division laws exist to limit the type and value of the property that can be distributed during a divorce. Qualified family attorneys can explain these rules to people who are going through a breakup.

Source:, “Give me my ring back! (Who gets the wedding rings in a divorce?)” Natalie Gregg, Sep. 23, 2013

Identifying Marital Property During Divorce

Dividing assets during divorce is becoming increasingly complicated in the modern economy. With couples sharing homes, vacation properties, pension plans and stock options and even professional licenses, a higher level of care is required in today’s property divisionagreements. It is important to recognize the difference between separate and marital assets before you can begin to split your holdings during your breakup.

In general, separate property in Maryland consists of the following: property that was owned by one spouse before the marriage; inheritances; a gift provided by a third party; or payment from pain and suffering related to a personal injury suit. Separate property can become marital property if the value is commingled with other jointly-held assets. If you deposit your inheritance money into a joint account, for example, those funds become fair game during divorce negotiations.

Alternatively, other property acquired during marriage is generally considered to be a joint asset. This is true regardless of the official owner of the property listed on titles or deeds. As a divorcing spouse, you are entitled to value held in your husband’s or wife’s 401K, even if the other person’s name is listed on the account. State laws differ somewhat with regards to specific assets, so be sure you are consulting a qualified attorney to find out more about your legal rights to marital property during divorce.

Some states also recognize the increase in value from a separate property as marital property. For example, if you held a rental property before getting married and its value increased, the difference could be considered dividable property during divorce. Maryland is an equitable distribution state, so several factors are considered when marital property is being divided.

If you have questions about property division during your divorce, consider consulting a qualified family attorney. These professionals can help you learn more about your property rights during your breakup, allowing you to understand your claims to retirement accounts, real estate, tax refunds, art and antiques, among other holdings.

Source:, “Understanding how assets get divided in divorce” Jeff Landers, Jun. 14, 2013