Distribution of Marital Property in Maryland Divorces
The distribution of marital property is one of the major issues which must be decided in a divorce. Unlike domestic relations orders for custody and support, which can often be modified after the divorce if circumstances have changed, the final judgment of the court on the property distribution is not normally changed. It is very important to be well-represented during the divorce by a family law attorney who is experienced in Maryland divorce law and dissolutions involving high net worth couples or complex asset structures. The Coover Law Firm in Columbia provides advice and representation in domestic law in Howard County and beyond. We make sure you are well-represented in the property settlement and receive your fair share of the marital estate.
Maryland Marital Property Law
Maryland is an “equitable distribution” state as opposed to a “community property” state. The judge’s job in a divorce proceeding is not to divide the marital property equally between the two parties, but instead to ensure an equitable, or fair, distribution. An equitable distribution does not always mean an equal distribution, and the property division in a Maryland divorce is not always 50/50. The court considers a variety of factors in deciding what a fair distribution would be, including:
- Length of the marriage
- Age, health, skills and abilities of each spouse
- Amount of separate property owned by each spouse
- Relative ability of each party to acquire property in the future
- Financial needs of each
- Spousal support or alimony awards
- Who has current use and possession of the home or other property
- Contributions each made to the education or earning power of the other
- Contributions each made to the marital property
- Existing premarital and post-marital separate property
- Financial conditions of each party
- Tax consequences of a distribution
- Marital misconduct or other factors the court deems appropriate to consider
The court only divides marital property, which is basically all property acquired during marriage, including the income of either spouse. Separate property is property acquired before marriage or property acquired during marriage through gift or inheritance solely to one spouse. However, there are many ways that assets can be commingled, and separate property can become marital property and subject to distribution.
It is important to remember that debts as well as assets are considered and distributed in a divorce, so it is equally important to identify any debts as marital or separate property.
Experienced Columbia Family Law Attorney for Complicated Property Distribution Matters
The distribution of marital property can become very complicated when the couple has a complicated financial situation, or when one spouse tries to hide assets or misstate their character or value. It is vital to a fair settlement that every piece of property is located, correctly identified as marital or separate, and accurately valued. At the Coover Law Firm, we help in even the most complicated situations, such as when one spouse is self-employed or owns a business or interest in a business, or when the marital estate involves stock options, vested or unvested pensions, and other financial matters. For advice and assistance in developing a property settlement agreement, or representation in a Maryland divorce court, contact the Coover Law Firm in Columbia.