When you’re going through a separation or divorce, there are many different factors to consider. Determining what to do with shared marital property can prove particularly stressful and add to the emotional impact of the separation.
Choosing an experienced property division attorney in Maryland is critical to ensuring a fair resolution. At Andalman & Flynn, we are committed to protecting your rights and helping you get your share of assets. Contact us today to schedule your consultation if you’re located in the Montgomery County area.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
What Is Considered Marital and Non-Marital Property?
Marital property is all property that has been acquired during the marriage. This can include:
- Real estate property (such as a house, condominium, or land)
- Bank accounts
- Retirement and pension assets
- And other personal property
Non-marital property is property acquired by one spouse before the marriage, or that is given as a gift or inheritance from a third party during the marriage.
Some property can be deemed both marital and non-marital, such as a retirement account that one spouse has established and contributed to before marriage and continues to contribute to after marriage. The value of the retirement account prior to the date of marriage plus investment experience is non-marital property, while the value of the retirement account generated during the marriage is marital property and subject to division.
What Is Marital Debt?
Marital debt is a debt used to acquire marital property. The most common marital debts are mortgages, Home Equity Lines of Credit, and car loans. Just as a court will order an equitable division of assets, the court may also order an equitable, but not necessarily equal, division of marital debt.
How Do Maryland Courts Divide Property?
Maryland is an equitable distribution state, meaning that if the spouses cannot reach an agreement, the court will determine property division in an equitable, but not necessarily equal, fashion. The court may not divide or re-distribute non-marital property. However, the court may take into consideration the value of each spouse’s non-marital property when determining how to equitably divide it.
When determining appropriate property division, the court may take the following factors into consideration (based on Maryland Family Law Code § 8-205):
- The contributions of each party to the marital estate, both monetary and non-monetary
- The value of all property of each party
- The economic circumstances of each party
- Misconduct that led to the estrangement of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and physical or mental condition of each of the parties
- How the marital property was acquired
- The amount of alimony awarded
- Any other factors that the court deems relevant
What Happens if One Spouse Wastes Marital Property?
The legal term for wasting marital assets is called dissipation, and it happens when one spouse uses marital property for his or her own benefit for a reason unrelated to the marriage. If the court finds that one spouse’s dissipation of assets was serious enough, it may consider the dissipated property as if it still existed when marking an equitable division of the marital property. The purpose of this rule is to discourage either spouse from wasting marital assets.
What Is a "Monetary Award"?
A monetary award is a court order requiring one spouse to pay money to the other. The court considers a number of statutory factors in deciding how to equitably divide the property and whether to make a monetary award. Those factors include:
- Each spouse’s contribution, both financial and otherwise, to the well-being of the family
- The economic circumstances of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- The age, health, and physical and mental condition of each spouse
- How and when specific assets were acquired
- Whether either spouse contributed separate property to property the couple owns as tenants by the entirety
- Whether either spouse has been awarded alimony and/or possession of the family home
- Whether either spouse committed marital misconduct that contributed to the divorce
Is it Beneficial to Reach a Marital Property Settlement or Have a Court Decide?
It is always better to reach an amicable property settlement agreement with your spouse, if you can. Reaching an agreement will save you in litigation expenses and can allow you both to move on quicker. However, when a fair agreement is not possible between two spouses, then it is important to have zealous and competent representation to help you determine property division in court.
Property Division Attorneys in Maryland
The property division attorneys at Andalman & Flynn are committed to defending the rights of clients throughout Maryland to ensure their interests are protected throughout a divorce. With a record of winning verdicts in family law and an understanding of how difficult this time can be, we seek to help you start a better way of life as efficiently as possible.
Trust the attorneys at Andalman & Flynn to provide you with the zealous, knowledgeable representation you need for equitable property division in Silver Spring and surrounding Montgomery County, MD cities. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation!