In a perfect world all relationships would work out and couples would live happily ever after. Unfortunately this is not a perfect world and many marriages, and relationships, end in divorce. While some divorces are amicable and end peacefully others do not. When you combine the emotions involved in any type of family law issue such as divorce, child custody, child or spousal support, along with the financial fear and the welfare of your children it is easy to see how and why divorces can sometimes get very complicated and messy. During this very stressful period of your life, which can sometimes last several years, you need someone ensuring that your rights, financial interests and the welfare of your children is being protected. Please contact our Maryland family law attorneys handling all family law cases in Cecil County, Harford County, Baltimore city and Baltimore County.
Maryland Equitable Distribution Laws
During a Maryland divorce the legal term for dividing marital assets and marital debts is equitable distribution. Maryland is known as an equitable distribution state and not a community property state. Our courts divide marital property and debts based on the principles of equity. That means it is in the discretion of the court to divide marital assets and marital debts as it sees fair. Equitable distribution does not always mean that property and debts will be equally divided. One of the goals during a divorce is to achieve an equitable, or fair, distribution of property, retirement accounts and investment accounts.
Factors Considered In Equitable Distribution
According to Maryland divorce law fault is not a factor taken into consideration during equitable distribution. Maryland courts may use some of the following in determining equitable distribution:
Length of marriage
Age of both parties
Health of both parties
Income of both parties
Employability of both parties
Amount of non-marital assets
Who will have custody of children when applicable
Did either person help the advancement of the other’s income
Standard of living during the marriage
Marital Property or Marital Assets
If a settlement cannot be reached prior to entering the court system, the court will divide the marital assets in a way it deems fair given the particular circumstances of the cases. Marital assets are also referred to as marital property. Marital assets can include a home, cars, furniture, businesses owned by the parties, jewelry, art, investments and retirement accounts. Anything purchased during the period of time considered as “the marriage” will be deemed marital property, even if it was purchased or put in only one party’s name. For example, even if your name does not appear on the title to a vehicle purchased by your spouse during your marriage you may be entitled to half of that vehicle.
Non-Marital Assets or Separate Property
In Maryland, the law allows separate or non-marital assets to be omitted from the equitable distribution process. Any property that was excluded by a prenuptial agreement will not be included in the equitable distribution. Any property brought into the marriage and kept separate during the marriage is also considered non-marital property. Gifts received by just one spouse during the marriage may also be kept separate. Inheritances received before or during the marriage that are kept separate may also be excluded. However, if the value of any of the non-marital property increases during the marriage, the increase in value may be considered marital property. If a spouse chooses to use non-marital funds for a common purchase, like buying a home, that money will often be considered marital property.
In Maryland, marital debts are defined as debts that were acquired by either spouse after the marriage date and before the date of separation. Common marital debts include credit card bills, mortgages, car loans, home equity loans, tax obligations and judgments. Even if a credit card was only in one spouse’s name, if the credit card was used during the marriage, both parties have an obligation to repay the debt.
Divorces usually get messy and ugly and unfortunately the high road is not always taken. The Elkton divorce lawyers at our firm have helped many clients locate hidden assets and income that a spouse may possess in an attempt to wrongly and fraudulently attempt to keep a marital asset for themselves.
Occasionally someone will try to hide assets in order to pay less or receive more support. The divorce lawyers at our Harford County law firm offer each client an individual solution for remedies sought such as:Requesting the court impose a lien as security for the payment for alimony or any other award for the other party
Awarding the right to live in the marital property to one party to the exclusion of the other
Requesting the court to direct one party to continue to pay health insurance or life insurance on behalf of the other party
Requesting special relief, including injunctions or orders necessary to prevent the removal, dissipation, transferring or encumbering of real or personal property
The Maryland Divorce Code
The Maryland Divorce Code controls your divorce if you do not agree on the division of property and debts on your own. If you have a pre-nuptial agreement that does not include something that is available to you according to Maryland Law, you may still be able to assert those rights.
Contact Our Elkton, Maryland Family Law Attorneys For A Free Case Eval
If you are considering a divorce or have questions about the division of property after a divorce, contact a Maryland family law attorney at our firm today. It is important that you deal with an experienced Baltimore, Maryland family law attorney who will walk you through the divorce and equitable distribution process and make sure that nothing is left out of your settlement.
With offices in Baltimore, Cecil County & Harford County we help those in the Aberdeen, Abingdon, Annapolis, Baltimore, Bel Air, Bel Air North, Bel Air South, Belcamp, Berlin, Cambridge, Catonsville, Cherry Hill, Chestertown, Churchville, Cockeysville, Denton, Dundalk, Earleville, Easton, Edgewood, Elkton, Ellicott City, Essex, Fallston, Forest Hill, Frederick, Hagerstown, Jarrettsville, Joppa, La Plata, Leonardtown, North East, Oakland, Perryville, Pikesville, Prince Frederick, Randallstown, Reistertown, Rising Sun, Rockville, Salisbury, Snow Hill, Towson & Upper Marlboro, MD areas.