Determining Value & Ownership of Marital Property in Maryland
Unless the parties to an annulment or divorce reach a mutual agreement, the Maryland courts step in to help divide marital property. In the process, the court must separate marital and non-marital property; determine the value of marital property; and resolve any ownership disputes concerning marital property.
Determination of Marital Property
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-203 authorizes the state courts to determine which property qualifies as marital property during an annulment or a divorce. In most cases, the determination of marital property will occur:
- When the court awards an annulment or divorce; or
- Within 90 days of granting an annulment or divorce, but only if the court reserves the right to make a later determination.
That being said, it is possible for a Maryland court to make a marital property determination after the 90-day window closes. In order to do so, Section 8-203 requires that:
- When granting an annulment or divorce, the court reserves the right to make a later determination of marital property;
- During the 90-day period, the court needs an extension to complete the determination of marital property; and
- Both parties to the annulment or divorce consent to the extension.
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-201 provides definitions of what will and will not be considered marital property by the court. Marital property will not include property that is:
- Acquired before the marriage;
- Acquired by inheritance or gift by a third party;
- Excluded by valid agreement; or
- Directly traceable to any of these sources.
Valuation of Marital Property
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-204 authorizes the state courts to determine the value of marital property during an annulment or divorce. This means that the court will evaluate all marital property — including the family home and other property acquired during marriage — and determine the corresponding value.
In most cases, the Maryland courts are not responsible for determining the value of pensions, retirement benefits and similar compensation plans. If either party to the annulment or divorce objects to the distribution of the plan, however, the court may determine the value of the plan.
Ownership of Marital Property
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-202 authorizes the state courts to resolve disputes concerning the ownership of real and personal property. When granting an annulment or divorce, Section 8-202 enables a Maryland court to determine the ownership of applicable personal property when the court grants a limited divorce, and a Maryland court may determine the ownership of real property when the court grants an absolute divorce. After making a determination concerning the ownership of marital property, the court may:
- Issue a decree that clearly states the ownership interest of each party; and
- Require a partition or sale and division of any property owned by both parties.
In most cases, the Maryland courts do not transfer the ownership of marital property from one spouse to the other. Though under certain circumstances, however, the courts may transfer an interest in retirement benefits as well as personal and real property.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you need legal help with the division of marital property during or after a Maryland divorce, it can be considerably helpful to reach out to an upstanding family law attorney. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, the attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including the division of marital property. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.