Award of Family Property After a Maryland Divorce
When a couple decides to end their marriage and pursue a divorce, both parties must consider the issue of property division. If the parties to a divorce cannot agree amongst themselves, then a Maryland state court will award possession and use of family property, including the family home and family use personal property.
The definition of the family home appears in Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-201. Specifically, the family home refers to a property within Maryland that:
- Both parties lived in together as their principal residence;
- Either party owned or leased at the time of divorce; and
- Either party will use as their principal residence with a child.
Section 8-201 excludes certain things from the definition of the family home, such as property:
- Acquired before the parties were married;
- Received as an inheritance or a gift from a third party; or
- Exempted by a valid contractual agreement.
Family Use Personal Property
The definition of family use personal property also appears in Section 8-201. In exact terms, it is considered family use if the property:
- Was acquired while the parties were married;
- Owned by one or both parties; or
- Used principally for family benefit.
Common examples of family use personal property include:
- Appliances, such as washers, dryers, and freezers;
- Furnishings, such as furniture, paintings, and decorations; and
- Vehicles, such as cars, trucks, and lawnmowers.
Under Section 8-201 certain things do not qualify as family use personal property. Any gifts or inheritance received from a third party are exempt from the definition of family use personal property in Maryland.
Award of Family Property
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-208 outlines a specific process for awarding possession and use of family property, including the family home and family use personal property.
When a state court grants a request for annulment or limited or absolute divorce, that court is allowed to:
- Grant sole possession and use of family property to either party; or
- Divide possession and use of family property between the parties; and
- Allocate financial responsibility for family property to either party.
The Maryland state courts can exercise these powers regarding both the family home and family use personal property, regardless of how the family property was titled, owned, or leased before divorce.
That being said, Section 8-208 does impose certain required considerations on the state courts. In awarding possession and use of family property, a Maryland state court must consider:
- The best interests of any children involved in the divorce;
- The continued interest of either party in using family property as a residence or to generate income; and
- The potential hardship of losing possession or use of family property.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about property division during a Maryland divorce, it can be critically effective to consult with a talented family law attorney. The Bel Air divorce attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including divorce and property division. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.