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How Does Maryland Law Define Property In A Divorce Case?

In terms of marriage, Maryland law defines property in divorce cases in one of two ways. It’s either marital property or non-marital property, and those are the two distinctions that a court can draw when examining at a piece of property. If it’s marital then it’s subject to division by the court. If it’s non-marital then it’s not subject to the court’s jurisdiction and either belongs to one spouse or the other spouse at the time of trial/settlement.

Is Maryland A Joint Or Community Property State? What Does It Mean?

In Maryland, we don’t use the term “community property”. We just consider things to be marital property. Anything that is purchased during the marriage is considered marital property by the court. Inheritance and gifts (to one spouse only) even if acquired during the marriage are still considered non-marital by the court (subject to argument, of course). Everything is subject to argument but a clear/concise definition of what we consider to be marital property is any property (real and/or personal) acquired from date of marriage until date of divorce. Therefore, the biggest argument or the biggest battle is usually not over whether a property is marital or non-marital, but over the division the proper division of an identifiable piece of marital property. For instance, one spouse may argue a 50/50 split, and the other spouse believes the property should be divided 60/40, 70/30 etc. Here is a major point that I receive E-mails and phone calls on all the time: a property is in my spouse’s name only or my name only, what happens now? Maryland is NOT a title state. This means the property being deemed marital or non-marital is determined by when the subject property was acquired and now whose name is on the property.

What Factors Can Affect The Division Of Assets And Debts In A Divorce In Maryland?

The biggest factor (again) that can affect the division of assets and debts in a divorce in Maryland is how the property was acquired and when it was acquired. When I say “how” I mean whether the property was a gift, inheritance, or purchased via regular transaction—I mean how the debt was manufactured. Was this a credit card that one spouse uses solely or was this a credit card utilized for home improvement purposes. The length of the marriage has very little (if any) bearing on whether the court is going to consider something as the asset of one spouse over the asset of another spouse. Length and fault are of no consequence when it comes to property/ and debt division in Maryland.

What Happens If I Owned A Property Before Marriage And Put The Property In Both Of Our Names During The Marriage? How Is That Property Divided?

If you owned a property before marriage and put the property in both of your names during the marriage, combined with other factors, like both spouses live in the home will more likely than not make this non-marital home partially marital; subject to a pre-nuptial agreement (of course)…IF you have one.

Now, I don’t want you to be confused based on the assertion I made in earlier (that Maryland is Not a title state)…therefore, it is NOT the placing of your spouse’s name on a deed or car title that makes the property partially marital but how the property is treated thereafter, and the funds used on the property during the marriage. The courts will look to see if marital funds have been used in the property during the marriage; most of the time the answer is going to be yes; especially if both spouses are living in the house at the same time. Marital funds are ALL sources of income from either spouse once you say “I do”. Your paycheck is his/her paycheck and vice versa.

What If I Attained Property During the Course of The Marriage Through Inheritance or Gift? What Then Does The Court Do In Terms of Division?

If you attained property during the course of the marriage through inheritance or gift (to one spouse only) then by definition that property is non-marital. If the gift is to the couple then it belongs to both spouses. When you start to use marital funds on non-marital property then it becomes partially marital. It may not be a 50/50 split but it may be subject to division by the Court nonetheless. This is a process of tainting non-marital property with marital funds. For example, if you received a car from an inheritance and the car is not running so you put $5,000 in it to fix the engine or do the work on it, then that car is tainted with marital funds. Hence, that inheritance is now partially marital and may be subject to equitable division by the Court.

For more information on Property 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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