One of the first questions you may have when contemplating a divorce is what will happen to your property. A common misconception is that the court will divide your property and your spouse’s property equally. While this may be true in some states (called “community property states”), Maryland is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that the court is not required to split the property “50/50” between you and your spouse – the court will instead determine what is marital property, value that property, and then make an equitable distribution of the marital property between you and your spouse.
Given Maryland’s use of equitable distribution of property,** it is of paramount importance that you have an experienced family law attorney that understands property distribution and the factors considered in determining the distribution. Family Legal Advocacy Group, LLC’s attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to advocate for a fair and just distribution of your property, whether you own small assets or a large portfolio of properties, accounts, and businesses.
What is considered marital property? Another common misconception is that marital property is only the items that are jointly titled between the spouses. Instead, marital property is all property, regardless of title, which was acquired by either party during the marriage.
There are four exceptions to what is considered marital property:
- property acquired before the marriage;
- property acquired by gift or inheritance from a third party during the marriage;
- property that has been excluded by a valid agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement);
- any property that is directly traceable to any of these sources.
After the court has determined what is marital property and has valued that property, the court will determine an equitable distribution of the property. The court may transfer ownership of an interest in certain types of property, grant a monetary award to one of the parties, or both.
There are a number of factors the court will consider when making an equitable distribution of the property, including:
- Length of the marriage;
- Age, physical, and mental condition of each party;
- The monetary and nonmonetary contributions each party made to the well-being of the family;
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time of the award;
- The value of each party’s property interests;
- How and when the specific property was acquired, including how much effort each party expended to accumulate the marital property;
- Any alimony or other court awards about family use personal property or the family home; and
- Any other factor the court considered necessary or appropriate.
It is important to understand how to protect your property and assets during a divorce. Contact Family Legal Advocacy Group, LLC to schedule an Initial Consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. During your initial consultation, our attorney will review your marital assets and possible distribution outcomes with you. We will educate you as to the relevant law regarding property distribution and answer any questions you may have which will allow you to be an active participant in your case.
Contact Family Legal Advocacy Group, LLC (410-884-0400) to schedule your initial consultation at one of our convenient locations in Columbia, Rockville or Towson, Maryland. We look forward to assisting you and being your legal advocate.
**See more about Maryland’s equitable distribution of property here.