Is Everything Acquired During Marriage Considered Marital Property?
Determining what is marital and separate property in a divorce can be difficult, and you must have a just outcome to preserve your legal and financial rights. If you choose our Maryland property division lawyer at Shah & Kishore to represent you, we will fight to protect your interests and determine what is and is not marital property. In this article, learn about divorce and marital property, then call our attorneys at (301) 315-0001 for a complimentary legal consultation.
Maryland Is Not A Community Property State
Maryland is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court is not obligated to divide marital property equally during a divorce. Instead, the court will fairly divide marital property. But what is marital and non-marital property is a critical question that must be addressed.
What Is Marital Property In A Maryland Divorce?
According to Maryland law, ‘marital property’ means the property, however titled, was acquired by one or both parties during the marriage. So, any property that the parties obtained during the marriage will be considered marital property regardless of the person paying for it.
Some common examples of marital property are:
- Bank accounts
- Real estate
- Stock and bonds
- Pensions and other retirement funds
- Furniture and other household items, such as appliances
What Is Non-Marital Property?
The law states that non-marital property is anything either party obtained before the marriage. That property remains the property of the person who owned it before the union. The non-marital property stays the same as long as it has not been titled or gifted to the other spouse. Also, any property that a spouse receives by inheritance or gift from a third party during the marriage remains that person’s property. However, the couple acquired property while living together before marriage is non-marital property.
If the marriage ends and one party wants to claim a piece of property as their own, they must possess proof that the property is theirs alone. A married couple can obtain property joint ownership brought to the marriage by either party via a title transfer or appropriate agreement.
The law further states that non-marital property is protected from the other spouse’s debts. Each spouse has the power to dispose of property if it is owned by that person alone.
Property That Is Marital And Non-Marital
Certain assets could be a combination of marital and non-marital property. For instance, if one Party owned a house before the marriage, it is not marital property. But if you used marital funds to pay the mortgage, it is both marital and non-marital property. Also, real estate that is titled as tenants by the entireties will be deemed marital property unless there is a valid agreement stating otherwise.
How Property Is Divided In A Maryland Divorce
If the spouses do not have a valid agreement, the Marital Property Act controls how property will be divided. According to the law, all marital property will be divided equitably. When the court divides property owned by the Parties, it will decide what property is marital and what property is not marital Then, the value of the property will be determined. Your Maryland property division attorney will advocate for your rights during this process.
Next, the court will determine which party is entitled to which property by considering many factors. They include:
- The monetary and non-monetary contributions each made to the family’s well-being
- The value of all property interests of each party
- The economic circumstances of each party when the award is made
- The facts and circumstances that led to the divorce
- How long the marriage was
- The age and physical and mental condition of the parties
- How and when the property was acquired during the marriage, including the efforts each party made to accumulate marital property
- The contribution each party made to acquire the property in question
Note that the court cannot transfer title from one spouse to the other. In this situation, the family court will grant a financial award from one party to the other to adjust the equities and rights of the spouses regarding marital property. However, the spouses could agree and take steps to change the property title independently.
Suppose a wife has $25,000 of stock titled in her name, bought with her salary during the marriage. That money is considered marital property, and the court does not have the authority to transfer ownership to the other party.
However, the court can consider the mentioned factors and grant the husband a financial award based on the stock value. Also, the court is not required to award 50% of the stock value or any particular percentage. The amount of the financial award and how it will be paid will be determined after considering the above factors. This area of property division law is complex, but the skill and experience of our Shah & Kishore property division attorneys will ensure the best case outcome.
What If One Spouse Wastes Marital Assets?
Waste, also called dissipation, occurs when one party intentionally misuses marital assets when the marriage is breaking down. For instance, a spouse could use joint savings to pay for an expensive Hawaii vacation with her friends when the marriage ends. If the court deems that the expenditure was dissipation, it will reconcile the spending during the property division process.
If the court discovers that the spouse’s dissipation of assets was severe enough to be fraud, it may consider that the dissipated property still existed when the marital property was divided. This rule is intended to discourage the parties from wasting marital assets at the end of the marriage.
How Does Title Ownership Affect Marital Property?
The asset’s title alone does not determine if the property is marital or separate. The court could order that jointly titled property to be sold and the proceeds divided. The court cannot transfer the property title from one spouse to the other.
Contact Our Maryland Property Division Attorney
Questions about marital property and property division in divorce can be difficult. But our Maryland property division lawyer at Shah & Kishore has a deep financial background and is uniquely able to ensure that you receive a just share of marital property. For more information and legal advice, contact our Maryland property division lawyer at (301) 315-0001.