DEFINING MARITAL PROPERTY IN A MARYLAND DIVORCE CASE
Founder/Owner THE FIRM, LLC
This brief article will discuss property that is considered marital in a Maryland divorce case.
Each state may differ on what is considered marital and nonmarital in a divorce case.
The below is key in determining your rights and/or exclusions to what your spouse may legally be entitled to in your divorce proceeding.
Once the family law court determines that a certain property is marital, they will then place a value on that property, and then divide the property in a way the court believes is fair/equitable.
1. EXCLUDED PROPERTY:
The three (3) types of property that are generally not considered marital property in a divorce case are as follows:
a. Gifts to one Spouse (and not the other)
A gift (even if received during the marriage) is generally excluded from being considered marital property in a Maryland divorce case; therefore generally not divided by the Maryland family law court.
b. Property acquired through inheritance to one spouse (and not the other)
Real property and/or personal property acquired through inheritance is generally not considered marital property in a Maryland divorce case; therefore a Maryland family law court will generally not divide this property.
c. Property acquired BEFORE marriage
Property acquired prior to marriage is generally not considered marital property in a Maryland divorce case; therefore this property is generally not subject to division by a Maryland family law court.
Although a property may have been acquired prior to marriage, a Maryland family law court may decide to divide the property IF marital funds was used on the property i.e. you may be at risk of having your car or home purchased prior to the marriage divided by a Maryland family law court once you spend marital money on that particular item.
Every situation is different and the evidence produced at the Maryland divorce trial will dictate if, and how, the property will be divided.
2. INCLUDED PROPERTY
Retirement accrued during the marriage is considered marital property and the Maryland family law court will divide the spouse’s retirement according to what the court believes is equitable.
b. Real Property
Land and homes acquired WHILE married is considered marital property in a Maryland divorce case. Maryland is not a title ownership state; hence a house that is purchased and only has one spouse on title or deed of trust (loan) is STILL considered marital property.
A separation does not end the marriage. Therefore, a property purchased during a period of separation is (by definition) marital property in a Maryland divorce case and a Maryland family law court may decide that this property should be divided equitably.
Real property may be divided by sale or by monetary award, depending on who is on title.
c. Personal Property
Cars, clothes, and furniture acquired WHILE married is considered marital property in a Maryland divorce case.
Again, Maryland is NOT a title ownership state. Therefore, a car(s) titled in one spouse’s name only is still considered marital property in a Maryland divorce case and subject to equitable distribution by a Maryland family law court.
d. Bank Accounts
All bank accounts opened and/or maintained during the marriage, and all accounts whether opened prior to the marriage or during the marriage where marital funds have been deposited may be the subject of equitable distribution by a Maryland family law court.
Again, Maryland is not a title ownership state so the fact one spouse is on the account and the other is not does not exclude the account from equitable distribution by a Maryland family law court in a Maryland divorce case.
3. REBUTTAL PRESUMPTION
a. Equitable relief
The presumption of marital and nonmarital property is one that may be rebutted/challenged under certain circumstances in a Maryland family law divorce case.
The Maryland family law court is a court of equity and they will distribute property based on a fairness standard.
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