How Do the Courts Oversee Property Division During a Maryland Divorce?
When a married couple files for divorce in Maryland, the state courts are responsible for overseeing the process of property division. Relying on established criteria, the Maryland state courts must ensure that the division of marital property is fair and equitable to both spouses involved. In order to do so, the state courts have the power to transfer ownership interests in property and even award monetary sums.
What is the Difference Between Marital & Non-Marital Property?
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-201 defines what qualifies as marital and non-marital property. Under this section, marital property refers to anything acquired by either or both spouses during their marriage. Unless excluded by a valid contract, martial property typically includes any interest in real property that the spouses hold as tenants by the entirety.
On the other hand, Section 8-201 defines non-marital property as anything:
- Obtained before the spouses were married;
- Received by either spouse as inheritance or third-party gift; or
- Excluded from the definition of marital property by a valid contract between the spouses.
Can the Courts Award or Transfer Marital Property?
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-205 explains the process for granting an award of or an interest in marital property. After determining which property qualifies as marital property and its value, the Maryland state courts may grant a monetary award to either spouse. The state courts may also transfer an ownership interest in:
- Pensions or retirement, profit-sharing, or deferred-compensation plans from one spouse to either or both spouses;
- Family use personal property from one spouse to either or both spouses, subject to any existing liens; or
- Residential real property that was the domicile of the spouses, subject to any existing liens.
The capacity to grant a monetary award or transfer an ownership interest in property exists independent of alimony. In other words, the Maryland state courts may exercise these powers, whether or not alimony is awarded to either spouse.
What are the Required Considerations for Awarding Property?
Section 8-205 also establishes the required considerations for granting a monetary award or transferring an ownership interest. In order to make a fair determination, the Maryland state courts must consider numerous factors, including the:
- Monetary and non-monetary contributions of each spouse to the marriage;
- Value of all property interests of each spouse;
- Economic circumstances of each spouse when filing for divorce;
- Reasons for which the spouses decided to pursue divorce;
- Duration of time the spouses were married;
- Age as well as physical and mental condition of each spouse;
- Award of alimony, family home, or family use personal property to either spouse; and
- Other factors that are necessary or appropriate to make a fair determination.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
If you need legal assistance with property division or other facets of Maryland family law, contact the Bel Air divorce attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered. Reach out to us today for a consultation on your case.