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How Does Maryland Law Define Debt In A Divorce Case?

Assume that only one spouse is responsible financially, as the Court cannot assign a debt to someone whose name is not on the debt. For example, if a car note is only in one spouse’s name, then the Court cannot place or “assign” the other person’s name on the car note. If only one person’s name is on the mortgage, the Court cannot place a person’s name on the loan. However, if one spouse is walking away with a lot of debt in their name only then the Court has a way of levelling the playing field or balancing things out. What the Court can do is grant one spouse a monetary award in attempts to level the playing field because the family law Court is a Court of equity. They will do some type of calculation taking into account the fact that the other spouse is not financially responsible for a particular debt. For example, if a spouse should get $100,000 from the other spouse’s pension but they are not financially responsible for the mortgage (because it is in one spouse’s name only) then the Court may decide it is equitable/fair to reduce or remove the rights of the pension all together; depending on how much is owed on the mortgage. In essence, the Court has the ability to offset some entitlements to level the playing field.

Are Pension Accounts And Retirement Assets Divided In The Same Way As Other Property?

Pension and other retirement assets are divided in the same way as other property. From the date of the marriage, the pension and retirement accounts are subject to division by the Court. Maryland has a set formula on division of retirement. If the pension has accrued for 20 years and the parties were married for 10 of those 20 years, then 10 years of retirement is subject to division. If the party continues to work after the divorce then that time after the divorce is not subject to division.

How Do The Courts Handle The Division Of Debt In A Divorce In Maryland?

The Courts handle the division of debt in a divorce in Maryland by looking at whether it is marital debt or non-marital debt and whether it should be split 50/50, which is where the battle begins. It depends on what the debt is and the spouse that built up the debt. The Courts will examine the debt to decide why one spouse should not be obligated on a debt even the debt is marital. The Court may decide that even though the other spouse should be obligated, it isn’t equitable to have that spouse obligated for 50% of the debt. For example, one spouse is an avid golfer and has a retail card with thousands of dollars of golf equipment owed on the card. The partner has zero interest in the sport and does not feel he/she should share in paying back that debt. Under these circumstances, a family law court, may decide that is unfair to have the other spouse responsible for this retail card.

What Are The Dangers Of Not Using An Experienced Family Law Attorney When Dealing With Division Of Assets And Debts In a Divorce Case?

The dangers of not using an experienced family law attorney when dealing with division of assets and debts in a divorce case is that examining and dividing assets and debts, gets a little bit tricky and somewhat convoluted for someone who doesn’t do this for a living and hence would not know the right argument(s) to make.

A person needs to know what the definitions are and they need to know that even though there are definitions out there, a lot of it is in the grey. These definitions create a rebuttable presumption in many cases, therefore arguments can be made on various debt and properties. You can make arguments as to why the equity in the house shouldn’t be divided 50/50. Someone who is trained and has made these arguments plenty of times is just more adept. This may be your first divorce or your second divorce but an experienced attorney has done this hundreds of times and has another level of experience. The old adage says “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” I would strongly advise seeking legal Counsel at the outset to avoid mistakes and/or pitfalls. Every case doesn’t require the aid of a lawyer. Cases where the parties can reach an amicable agreement and are confident in their own abilities to live by a verbal agreement or abilities to draft a complete property settlement agreement won’t require the assistance of a lawyer. Attorneys cost money. Doctors cost money. Sometimes people represent themselves and treat their own illness. It may work out well. Do you feel lucky?

For more information on Debt In a Divorce In Maryland, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (800) 400-2350 today.

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