Laurie M. Wasserman
What to Do If You Cannot Agree on Dividing Personal Property in Maryland Divorce
During a divorce, larger issues like custody often get prioritized over issues such as, “Who gets to keep the couch?” or, “How are we going to split the kitchenware?”. However, the division of personal property must be addressed to get a divorce in Maryland. It is preferable, and more cost-effective, to work out the division of personal property by agreement. However, if you and your ex-partner cannot reach an agreement, we encourage you to consider the following tips.
Defining Marital Property
Before we jump in, it is important to define what exactly is at issue. The Court has jurisdiction to divide marital property in an absolute divorce. In Maryland, Marital property is defined as all property or assets acquired during the marriage by one or both parties. Common examples of marital property include:
Furniture, home goods, and décor
Shared financial accounts and investments
Excluded from marital property is:
Gifts and inheritances bequeathed to one party
Assets purchased by one party prior to the marriage
If you and your ex cannot agree on the division of property, the Court will do so for you. As an “equitable distribution” state, Maryland Courts divide marital property fairly, but not equally. The Court looks will consider many statutory factors when dividing property, the most common being:
The financial contribution of both spouses
Duration of the marriage
Each spouse’s individual financial situation
The relative size and value of the assets
Make a List
It is advantageous to work out the division of personal property with your ex. If lawyers get involved, you could end up spending more than what the property is worth. When communicating with your ex-partner on how to divide your marital property, you should first make a list of all the items at issue. Separate the assets which belong to only you from those you share with your ex-partner. During this process, be sure to make special notes of any specific belongings you really want to take with you, as well as those you would not mind parting with.
Next, you should consider the value of the property, especially the larger items. If the item is a collectible or antique, you may want to reach out to an expert to obtain a proper valuation. Keep in mind that for divorce purposes the value of the item is not what you paid for it. Rather, it is what you would get if you a willing buyer were to purchase it from you as is.
Split the Property Equitably
After values are determined, it is up to you and your ex-partner to divide the property equitably. I
The division of personal property item by item can be tricky. We encourage you to prioritize what is truly important to you. If an item is sentimental to your ex-partner, consider letting that item go, and perhaps your kindness will be reciprocated at a future date. Or for household furniture and furnishings you both want, it may be easier to flip a coin or trade for another item of importance to your ex-partner. Be open to the fact that you might not walk away with all the items you desire. And, when it comes to your child’s possessions, there should be comforting and familiar items in each of your households.
In many cases, you will need to let go of some things and move forward. It may be better to buy a new sofa than spend time and money fighting over the old sofa. And, unless you had two of everything, each of you will need to purchase replacement items for your new residences.
Sell, Sell, Sell
Not every asset can be easily divided between you and your ex-partner. For big-ticket items such as vehicles and real estate, selling them may be your best option. Selling your assets secondhand and splitting the money can be a useful option for those possessions neither you nor your partner is particularly attached to.
Meet With an Attorney
Of course, not every couple will be able to reach an amicable agreement regarding the division of their assets. If you and your ex-partner truly cannot reach an agreement, an experienced family attorney may be able to step in and help you brainstorm other workable solutions.
Do not wait until the week before your divorce hearing to begin this conversation. Dividing your personal property fairly is something you will want to start thinking about sooner rather than later. If this is something you have been delaying, reach out and speak with a family attorney today for more information as you enter this new chapter of your life.
If you have questions about marital property, please contact Laurie Wasserman at email@example.com or 410-842-1070. The legal team at the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman is here to help guide and advocate for you.
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