Marital v. Non-Marital Property Classification is extremely important in determining ad of issues that arise in a custody dispute and turn to issues related to the classification of property as marital or nonmarital. The first thing a Maryland family law judge must determine when deciding how to equitably divide assets that a married couple has acquired either jointly or separately is whether such property is marital property or nonmarital property.
This determination is significant. Property that a court decides is nonmarital will be excluded from equitable division by the court. In other words, if a court determines that a parcel of land, an automobile, or a house was acquired by one spouse alone, the other spouse will be precluded from laying a claim to any of the value associated with that property.
Most people have an intuitive sense of what belongs to them. In a divorce, spouses’ sense of entitlement and right to a certain property becomes even more keener. Countless family law clients have come in saying “I paid for that ___ (fill in the blank) out of my hard-earned money. It’s mine.” Others have come in dispirited saying, “I am at a loss, I put so much sweat equity in the house and made mortgage payments but my spouse never got around to putting me on the deed.” Well, as you will see with this week’s question and answer, your intuition regarding what’s mine and what isn’t may not serve you well in this area of family law.