Property Division and Alimony Laws Governing Same-Sex Couples in Maryland
Skilled family law attorneys assisting LGBT clients
On January 1, 2013, the Civil Marriage Protection Act went into effect in Maryland, affording same-sex couples all of the rights and privileges of marriage that traditional couples have. Those same rights and privileges come into play when a same-sex couple chooses to divorce as well. There are, however, a few legal challenges that could affect alimony and property division.
Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC is an elite family law firm serving same-sex couples throughout Maryland. The all-female team of attorneys has in-depth knowledge of family law and 30 years of collective experience, both of which are at the disposal of every client it serves. The firm provides comprehensive counsel and support for its clients, and designs creative strategies with its clients’ best interests in mind.
Dividing marital assets and determining spousal support
In Maryland, property is divided equitably, not equally; there is no guarantee of a 50/50 split at trial. However, parties may agree to a 50/50 division of property in a marital settlement agreement. The state defines marital property as that which was accumulated during the marriage; for many gay and lesbian couples, however, this distinction can prove problematic, as their marriages have only been recognized as legal in Maryland since January 1, 2013. Therefore, any property which legally belonged to one party prior to the couple being legally married is not considered marital property, and will not be subjected to division.
For example: if a same-sex couple purchased a piece of art work together in 2012 by using a credit card in the name of one party, then that piece of art work technically belongs to the purchaser and not to the couple under the law. For same-sex couples who have been together for years before being allowed to legally marry, challenges like this can occur when the judge divides the property.
The same challenge arises for couples where one partner is seeking alimony. Because alimony may be based in part on the length of a marriage, a man or woman who seeks alimony after supporting his or her partner for 20 years, but has only been legally married for three years, may not have a strong claim.