You and your spouse spent years building up your life: a house, a car, a retirement account, etc. Now you have decided to end the marriage, and all those assets are about to be divided. If you are like any of our clients, you probably have many questions about property division in Maryland Divorce cases. These are just a few examples of some of the most common questions clients typically ask about asset division.
Is Maryland a 50/50 divorce state? How do the Maryland courts divide marital assets in divorce?
Maryland is an equitable distribution state, which means that rather than divide marital property straight down the middle in a 50/50 fashion, the court uses several criteria – including the monetary and non-monetary contributions of each spouse, each spouse’s economic circumstances, factors that contributed to the demise of the marriage, the length of the marriage and several other factors – to decide how the assets will be divided between each party. (MD Code Family Law § 8-205) The court makes an effort to be as fair and equitable as possible as they divide up the marital estate.
What can be considered marital property?
Marital property is property that has been acquired by one or both parties during the marriage regardless of how it is titled. Any interest in real property that is held by both parties is also considered to be marital property. Property that was brought into the marriage, but maintained or developed by both spouses may also be considered marital property. For example: if you remove money from your trust fund and put it in a joint account, or if your spouse owns a business but you handle the books or work there on the weekends, these assets could be considered marital property.
What happens with non-marital or separate property?
Separate or non-marital property is property that was acquired by either party before the marriage took place, was received as an inheritance or gift to one of the parties from a third party, or is excluded by a valid agreement (such as a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement), or is directly traceable to any of these sources. Non-marital property is not subject to property division in the divorce proceedings.
What happens to the house if my spouse and I are unable to come to an agreement about who will get it in the divorce?
If the parties are unable to decide who will keep the house, the court can sell the house and divide the proceeds between both parties. Unless this is an option you can live with or prefer, it makes sense for the couple to find a way to come to a mutual agreement.
I am having an affair and I have been paying my lover’s car payment and college tuition as a business expense. One of my colleagues says that this can be considered dissipation of assets. Is that true?
If you are using marital assets to pay for these expenses for your lover, then this definitely could be considered dissipation; so can counting those expenditures as business expenses. This will diminish your share when the marital assets are divided.
The value of my company, which I started before I got married, has risen significantly over the course of my marriage. Will the increase in value be considered marital property?
The answer to this question depends greatly on the level of contribution your spouse made to the company’s increase in value. If your spouse worked side-by-side with your every day, then this would make the business a marital asset. If s/he had her own job outside of the company, then the court may decide what portion of the company can be considered a marital asset, if any.
I had a job for 15 years before I got married. My spouse and I were married for about five years before we decided to divorce. How much of my retirement account is my spouse entitled to in the divorce?
Retirement accounts and pensions are generally considered to be marital property, but this case is complicated by the fact that the party contributed to it for 15 years prior to the marriage. The challenges only increase if you or your spouse are in the military. Any cases that involve pensions and retirement funds will be complicated and are best left to the expertise of your Annapolis divorce attorney.
If you have any other questions about property division in Maryland Divorce cases contact us.
You probably have even more questions than what we can cover in a single blog post, so you are welcome to schedule a consultation to discuss your Maryland divorce with one of our experienced divorce attorneys at the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC
Dividing up the family’s assets during a divorce can be a painful and challenging time. You may begin to see a side to your spouse that you have never seen before. It will feel good to know that you have the support and guidance of an experienced Annapolis divorce team on your side throughout the chaos of divorce. You can feel free to give us a call at 410.921.2422 or fill out our contact form and schedule a consultation where you can get advice from our knowledgeable team of Annapolis divorce lawyers at Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, who are on your side until the end.