When property is divided among spouses in Maryland, it cannot simply be transferred from one spouse to the other. Instead, one spouse will give the other a monetary award as compensation.
For example, if one spouse stays in the family home, the other spouse may not just give up ownership of half of the house. He or she must give the other spouse the cash equivalent of half of the home’s value.
In order to win a monetary award, certain requirements must be met:
- A marriage must have existed. Unmarried cohabitation does not entitle anyone to a monetary award. However, even though common law marriages are not recognized in Maryland, they will be recognized if contracted in another state that does.
- A court must grant an absolute divorce or annulment.
- The presence of some marital property. Marital property was acquired by one or both spouses during the marriage. If there is a dispute, a court will decide what is and what is not marital property. (Note that property acquired during the separation but before the divorce can be considered marital property.)
Property acquired before marriage, by inheritance or as a gift from a third-party, excluded by valid agreement, or property directly traceable to any of these sources is not considered marital property.
- The property must be assessed. In order to determine the amount of monetary award, the value of all marital property must be determined. Value is generally assessed at the time a divorce is granted and not during the separation.