MARITAL PROPERTY

In an Absolute Divorce case, couples need to divide their marital property. It is important that your family law attorney understands the laws specific to the State of Maryland (as it differs from State to State) and has experience handling the division of marital property.  Maryland is an equitable division state, which means that there is no requirement that property is divided equally.

 

Marital property includes homes, financial accounts, vehicles, personal property, and businesses.  Marital property also includes debts tied to the acquisition of marital assets. It is important to conduct a thorough investigation into what assets exist in order to determine their value and the best way to distribute the asset. If a business is involved, we can employ an expert witness to value the business and determine the income of the business owner. 

Non-marital property includes gifts, inheritances, property acquired prior to the marriage, and property excluded by agreement. While the Court can take into consideration what non-marital property each party has, it cannot transfer or grant an ownership interest in property that is not marital. 

Couples can always negotiate an agreement to divide up their marital property. However, if they cannot agree, the Court must follow a three-step process when determining the division of property upon divorce.

  1. The Court must identify all property, and classify each as “marital” or “non-marital”;

  2. The Court must determine the value of all the marital property;

  3. The Court must then apply ten legal factors to divide the marital property and make an award to balance the equities.

A judge will examine ten factors during Step 3 when deciding how to divide marital property, including, but not limited to:

  • How much each spouse contributed to the family and household during the marriage;

  • If one spouse has received alimony;

  • The duration of the marriage;

  • The financial circumstances of each spouse;

  • When and how large assets, such as a home, property, or vehicle were purchased;

  • The approximate value of marital property and assets;

  • The overall mental and physical health of each spouse; and

  • The circumstances that contributed to the divorce (such as having an affair).

If the Court believes that there is an inequity in the distribution of property, the Judge can order one party to pay the other a monetary award. The Court can transfer interest in the ownership of a pension, retirement, profit-sharing plan, or deferred compensation plan, family use personal property, and real property.  The Court cannot transfer debts in the name of one party to the name of the other party (but they could order one party to pay the debt on behalf of the other). ​

As divorce lawyers in Towson and Baltimore, Maryland, the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman has extensive experience assisting clients through the process of distributing marital property.