How Is Marital Property Determined In Maryland?

Trying to decide what belongs to you can be stressful in a Maryland divorce. Your marital property division lawyer at Shah & Kishore will aggressively protect your interests and determine what is and is not marital property. Learn more about how marital property is determined in Maryland in this article.

Non-Marital Property Overview

Maryland state law says that any property obtained before the marriage is non-marital unless it is gifted or titled to the other party. Further, any property a spouse receives by inheritance or gift during the union is non-marital.

If the marriage ends and one party wants to claim a piece of property as their own, they must prove that the property belongs only to them. Non-marital property is safeguarded from the spouse’s debts, and each person has the power to sell property owned by them alone as if they are unmarried.

Also, a married person can do business, create contracts, file lawsuits, and be sued in their name. Neither party is responsible for contracts made by the other in their name. One spouse also is not responsible for the other spouse’s debts incurred before the marriage.

Marital Property Overview

Maryland law states that all property acquired during the marriage is marital property, regardless of who purchased it. The exception is property that a spouse received as a gift or inheritance, which would be considered non-marital property. Marital property may include real estate, bank accounts, furniture, stocks, pensions, retirement funds, cars, and other personal property. Note that if both parties jointly own a property, it cannot be sold without the other’s consent.

Property Division Overview

Property division in Maryland divorces is done according to the Marital Property Act. According to the Act, all marital property must be equitably distributed, but this does not necessarily mean equal distribution.

When the divorce court makes an equitable property division, the court will decide which property belonging to both parties is marital property. Then, it determines what the property is worth.

The court will also determine how much marital property each party is entitled to. The judge will consider the following factors:

  • The monetary and non-monetary contributions each made to the well-being of the home and family
  • The value of all property of each spouse
  • The economic circumstances of each party when the award is made
  • The facts and circumstances which caused the parties to divorce
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age and mental and physical condition of each party
  • How and when specific pieces of property were acquired
  • Other factors the court thinks are necessary or appropriate to make a fair and equitable decision

What Happens If A Spouse Wastes Marital Assets?

Dissipation is the legal term for waste. It occurs when one spouse expends marital funds for non-marital purposes. For instance, if one party uses $25,000 from the joint savings account to pay for a trip to Hawaii with their boyfriend, the court will appropriately resolve this dissipation by one spouse through a monetary award compensating the other spouse.

How Does Title Ownership Affect If It Is Marital Property?

Title papers do not determine if the property is marital or non-marital. An exception is that real property the parties own as tenants by the entirety is deemed marital. Further, the court can order the sale of personal property or real estate that is jointly titled, then the proceeds are divided.

Is There A Relationship Between Alimony And A Monetary Award?

Maryland courts have stated that alimony and a monetary award are usually interrelated and usually inseparable. A monetary award is not a sufficient substitute for spousal support or alimony, but the court has to consider the two together to arrive at a just result.

What Happens To Nonmarital Property After The Divorce?

Nothing, in most cases. The person who owns the property keeps it. But when considering alimony or monetary awards, the court must look at all spouses’ financial circumstances and resources, including nonmarital property. If the court says that one spouse must pay a monetary ward, nothing will stop the other spouse from attempting to collect said monetary award by filing a lien against the other spouse’s court-determined nonmarital property.

When Is A Property Acquired?

When a property is not fully paid for when it is acquired, courts in Maryland say the term ‘acquired’ which refers to an ongoing process of making payments to buy the property. With this definition, whether the property is marital or nonmarital depends on how each payment is paid.

For instance, a house one party bought before the marriage and was paying the home loan would begin as entirely nonmarital property. But if both spouses make house payments with marital funds during the marriage, the property is probably partially marital.

How Will Debts Be Divided?

The court might not require one party to pay the obligation of the other party or to satisfy joint debts of the marriage. But if one parent gets the family home or car, the court can tell the other parent to contribute to the home loan or auto payment.

You should understand even if the family court orders one party to pay the other one’s debt, the court order does not alter the agreement the spouse has with the lender. For instance, if you and your spouse own a joint Lowe’s card and the judge says your spouse has to pay it but does not, the creditor (i.e. Lowe’s) can pursue you for what is due. But once you pay the debt, you can file a motion in the court which ordered your spouse to pay that debt and request the court to file a monetary judgment against your spouse.

Contact Our Marital Property Division Lawyer

Property division questions can get acrimonious during a Maryland divorce. But having an experienced divorce attorney at your side will ensure you get your fair share of the property. Contact our marital property division lawyer at Shah & Kishore for help with your property division issues at (301) 315-0001 today. With our strong financial background, our attorneys can ensure that your assets are fairly valued and divided.

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