From the day you and your spouse get married all property that you purchase together with your respective income is considered marital property. Furthermore, any contributions, whether financial and non-financial, that were made by either spouse to individual assets owned by either spouse may also be considered marital property. Retirement, investments, and other accounts, regardless of how they are titled which were acquired after the date of marriage is also marital property. Upon divorce, that property must be divided between spouses. Determining which property is marital and distributing that property is established by the terms in your prenuptial agreement, marital settlement agreement, or decided by the court.
What is Not Marital Property?
Marital property is all property, real or personal, acquired during marriage. Some property may be deemed non-marital. It is important to understand and identify which property is marital and which is non-marital. Specific factors may cause otherwise non-marital property to become marital and conversely specific factors can cause property acquired during the marriage to be deemed non-marital. Property acquired through inheritance, gift or isolated from the parties’ joint finances may be non-marital and excluded from the total allocation of marital property upon divorce. Identifying and proving which property is marital and which is non-marital is complicated and requires detailed documentation and skilled legal advocacy.
Maryland is an Equitable Distribution State
Unlike in other states, in Maryland there is no presumption that each party is entitled to one-half of all marital assets. The laws surrounding equitable distribution are meant to make the division of marital property “fair”. However “fair” does not always mean “equal”. In fact, there are many factors that may affect the allocation of property each spouse is entitled to or awarded by the court if they are unable to reach an agreement regarding property distribution. For example, if one spouse is considered at “fault” for adultery, abuse, financial abandonment, etc.. then the distribution of marital property may not be equally divided between them. The “victim” spouse may be awarded more than the “offending” spouse.
Additionally, separately titled or owned property which is deemed non-marital can play a large role within equitable distribution. Specifically, if one spouse has more non-marital assets than the other,that may affect the Court’s equitable distribution of marital assets.
There are many factors that the Court relies upon to decide the allocation of assets on the basis of equitable distribution. It is important to understand your rights and your options, which are unique to each case. Legal advice and guidance is essential to ensure your rights with respect to your property. Having an experienced, knowledgeable and tenacious attorney in your corner makes all the difference when it comes to insuring that marital assets are equitably divided. Zhanna A. Maydanich, Esq. at ZM Law Group will analyze your unique issues and ensure that your interests in your marital property are maximized.