Property can be major area of dispute in a Maryland divorce proceeding. The first thing you should understand is, if the parties can come to agreement with the help of their attorneys and draft that agreement in the form of a settlement agreement, the court will honor the agreement and use the document to divide the marital estate, rather than using the property division factors as outlined in the Maryland Code. If the parties cannot agree, the judge will have a trial on the issue of property division and decide based upon the domestic relations law of the state of Maryland and general principles of equity. As such, it is often best for the parties to work together to the greatest extent reasonably possible and reach a settlement as to property division before trial, and hopefully before even filing a divorce proceeding.
With decades of experience in asset and property division, our Friendship Heights divorce attorneys are here to guide you toward a fair and equitable division of your estate, assets, property, and debt that is in your best interests. We are standing by to see how we can assist you.
Call our offices or contact us online to review your property division matter.
How Is Property Divided?
Property division during a Maryland divorce is handled through the process of equitable distribution. The court will consider a variety of factors in making an award as to how the marital estate should be divided.
The first thing the court will do in fashioning a property division award is to determine what property is part of the marital estate. Only property that is deemed part of the marital estate is subject to equitable distribution. Any other property is deemed personal property of the respective spouse and is not part of the marital estate.
Generally speaking, personal property may include:
- Any property acquired prior to the marriage.
- Inheritances or gifts from third parties.
- Property that is excluded by a prenuptial agreement or other legally sound agreement.
With respect to the marital home, the court will generally look to the same factors as listed above for a determination of personal property. In Maryland, the court also uses the term “family use personal property” to include household items, appliances, cars, furniture, and other similar items.
Equitable Distribution Award
Once the court has defined the marital estate, the court will look at a variety of factors in deciding on an equitable distribution award, such as:
- Monetary and non-monetary contributions each party has made to the family’s wellbeing.
- The total value of the marital estate.
- Each party’s financial situation.
- Why the parties decided to get divorced (fault grounds).
- How long the parties were married.
- The age of the respective parties at the time of divorce.
- Each party’s mental and physical condition.
Using some or all of these factors, the judge will fashion an equitable distribution of the property if the parties cannot agree. It is important to remember that, while equitable means fair, it does not mean an equal, 50/50 split.
Contact a Friendship Heights property division lawyer to learn more about the factors involved and how you may be affected.