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