Frequently Asked Questions About Marital Property in Maryland
Maryland is an "equitable division" state, which means the court will not divide property fifty-fifty, but instead, in a way that is fair and equitable under the circumstances. This equitable division need not be exactly equal, but often is close to equal.
No, a court cannot require one spouse to pay the sole credit card debt of the other. If the credit card debt is in the joint names of the parties, then you are both responsible for that debt. If the credit card debt was incurred to pay family expenses, the court may take that into consideration when considering the monetary award.
The term "property" encompasses many things, including the obvious, like houses, cars, bank accounts, jewelry, furniture, and art. But property is more than things you can lay your hands on; it also includes intangible things, like patents, trademarks, the value of certain investments, and goodwill in a business.
Marital property is all property, however titled, acquired by one or both parties during the marriage. Marital property includes any interest in real property held as tenants by the entireties unless that real property is excluded by valid agreement.
Non-marital or separate property is any property that was acquired before the marriage; acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party; is excluded by valid agreement; or is directly traceable to any of the foregoing sources.
"Dissipation" is the term for one spouse using marital property for his or her own benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage, at a time where the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown. If the court finds that the property was dissipated, it will value it and treat it as if it still exists and use it as part of the property division to the detriment of the spouse that used it.
A monetary award is an order from the court giving to one party a financial award of marital property in an absolute divorce. It is intended to compensate a spouse who holds title to less than an equitable portion of property.
The court must determine the following factors prior to entering a monetary award:
- The monetary and non-monetary contributions of each party to the well-being of the family;
- The value of all property interests of each party;
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the award is to be made;
- The circumstances that contributed to the breakdown of the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age of each party;
- The physical and mental condition of each party;
- How and when specific marital property was acquired and the effort expended by each party in accumulating the marital property;
- The contribution by either party to the acquisition of real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety;
- Any award of alimony and any award or other provision that the court has made with respect to family use personal property or the family home; and
- Any other factor that the court considers necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award or transfer of an interest in marital property.
If you would like more information, or if you have a question that was not answered here, we invite you to contact us at (301)637-6070 or using our online contact form to schedule a consultation.