What is Marital Property and How is it Divided in a Maryland Divorce?
Divorce isn’t just about splitting lives; it’s about dividing assets, too. And in the middle of the emotional whirlwind, understanding what counts as marital property can feel like decoding a foreign language. We get it, and we’re here to help. So, what is marital property, and how is it divided in a Maryland divorce? Let’s delve dive right in.
Understanding Marital Property in Maryland
Marital property is essentially any property that either spouse acquires during the marriage. It could range from real estate and vehicles to investment accounts and furniture. In Maryland, the aim is for an equitable distribution of marital property. Note that “equitable” does not necessarily mean equal; it means fair, as determined by a judge.
What Isn’t Marital Property?
You might be relieved to know that not everything you own falls under the umbrella of marital property. Certain items are classified as “nonmarital” or “separate” property. These include anything you owned before the marriage, gifts given specifically to you, and inheritances. So, if your grandmother left you a piece of jewelry, that’s usually yours to keep.
Equitable Property Distribution in Maryland
In Maryland, the law follows the equitable distribution model when it comes to dividing marital property. Unlike community property states, where assets are divided 50/50, Maryland aims for a division that is fair but not necessarily equal. Factors considered might include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial contributions, and future financial needs.
How to Determine What’s Fair
What counts as “fair” can be subjective and complex. Courts look at multiple factors such as the economic circumstances of each spouse, contributions to family well-being, and the reason for the divorce. They may also consider the future financial needs and resources of each party. This helps the court arrive at a distribution that is equitable for both spouses.
The Role of Prenuptial Agreements
Do you have a prenuptial agreement? These contracts, made before marriage, can spell out what happens to your property if you divorce. While courts usually honor these agreements, they can be challenged. For example, if the agreement was signed under duress or without full disclosure of assets, a judge might deem it invalid.
The Process of Property Division
Typically, you’ll first identify and list all marital property. Next, you’ll assign a monetary value to each item. This might require appraisals for items like homes or antiques. Once that’s done, you and your spouse can negotiate the division yourselves, or if an agreement can’t be reached, the court will decide for you. It’s usually best to consult an attorney to understand your rights and options better.
Do-It-Yourself vs. Court-Determined
If you and your spouse agree on how to divide your property, you can formalize it through a Marital Settlement Agreement. This can make the divorce process smoother and quicker. However, if you can’t agree, you’ll have to go to court where a judge will make the decisions based on equitable distribution principles.
How Our Legal Team Can Assist You in Maryland
The maze of marital property division can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to walk it alone. At Jimeno & Gray, P.A., our role is to guide you every step of the way. From helping you identify and categorize assets as marital or nonmarital, to valuing these assets and negotiating a fair distribution, we’ve got you covered. We can even go the extra mile to challenge or uphold prenuptial agreements, as the case may require. If you’re headed for court, we’ll be there to represent your interests, armed with the kind of personalized legal strategy that seeks the most equitable outcomes for you. Trust us to simplify this complex process while you focus on moving forward with your life.
Contact Us for Help With Asset Division in Maryland
Figuring out the division of marital property can be a complicated and emotionally draining process. At Jimeno & Gray, P.A., we can help you seek this asset in your divorce. Contact us today at 410-590-9401 to schedule a consultation.
Meet Our Lawyers
Gregory P. Jimeno, Esquire
Frank C. Gray, Jr., Esquire.
Magaly Delisse Bittner, Esquire
Jessica McConnell, Esquire