Marital Vs. Non-Marital Property in Maryland
Next to child custody, the most disputed matter in Maryland divorces is property division. Divorce attorneys are asked questions about property division and divorce every day. One of the most common is in regards to marital vs. non-marital property.
This article provides a brief discussion of marital and non-marital property in Maryland. For answers to specific property division or other divorce questions, reach out to an experienced divorce attorney in your area.
What is Marital Property in Maryland?
Marital property in Maryland is all property acquired by spouses during a marriage. There are some crucial exceptions; however, most real property and personal property are part of the marital property.
Marital property includes but is not limited to:
- Furniture and household goods;
- Stocks, bonds, and IRA’s;
- Jewelry and antiques;
- Art and collectibles; and
- Banking and savings accounts.
It does not matter how any retirement, investment, or other financial accounts are titled. They are considered marital if obtained after marriage and before a final divorce order. This applies if the spouses live separately without a separation order or agreement.
What is Non-Marital Property in Maryland?
Non-marital property or separate property in Maryland is property held solely by one spouse. This property is not subject to division in divorce, nor can it be used to pay the other spouse’s debts.
Non-marital property may be:
- Property acquired by one spouse before the marriage;
- Inheritances or gifts given to one spouse by someone other than the other spouse;
- Property explicitly excluded in a valid prenuptial, postnuptial, or separation agreement; or
- Proceeds, rents, or other items directly traceable to one of the above categories.
Non-marital property remains one spouse’s sole property unless or until it is gifted or titled to the other spouse or combined with the marital property so that it cannot be traced to its separate source. A spouse may dispose of their separate property as they choose.
It is important to note that married persons may enter into contracts, sue, and be sued in their name alone. Also, spouses are not liable for the debts acquired by their partner prior to marriage.
Family Use Personal Property in Maryland
Maryland has a third type of property division in divorces with minor children called family use personal property. This property includes the family home, vehicle, and household contents.
The court may award exclusive use and possession of any family use personal property to the parent with custody of the minor children. This award is meant to maintain a sense of stability in the children’s lives and can be ordered for up to three years from the date of the divorce decree.
Maryland is an Equitable Distribution State
Spouses may reach their own property division agreements or choose to have the courts divide marital property on their behalves. In Maryland, the courts follow a system known as equitable distribution when dividing marital property.
In equitable distribution, the court hears and reviews any evidence, evaluates the totality of the circumstances, then divides marital property based on fairness and equity. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal. This is especially true when one spouse is limited financially compared to the other.
The non-marital property of one spouse may be taken into account when making a property award to the other spouse. Contributions of one spouse to the non-marital property of the other spouse may also factor into a property award.
Speak with an Experienced Maryland Divorce Attorney Today
If you want to learn more about marital and non-marital property in Maryland, call Shah & Kishore today. Attorney Kishore can discuss actions you can take to secure your separate assets at any point in your marriage. He can also advise you on how to prepare to prove any assets are marital or non-marital in preparation for a divorce.
Schedule a complimentary consultation by contacting Shah & Kishore by phone or online. We offer practical legal solutions to complex legal problems.