What Happens to Marital Property after a Maryland Divorce?
When a married couple decides to pursue a divorce in Maryland, there are many required steps in the legal process. One of those steps involves property division, where the couple must decide how to separate their common property. Referred to legally as marital property, the couple or the state courts generally complete the division process before a divorce becomes final.
Definition of Marital Property
The definition of marital property appears under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-201. This section defines marital property as any property that either spouse acquired during the marriage.
On the other hand, marital property does not include any property that was:
- Obtained before the marriage;
- Acquired through inheritance or third-party gift; or
- Excluded from marital property by a valid contract.
Determination of Marital Property
The processes for determining what qualifies as marital property appear under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-203. This section gives the Maryland courts authority to determine what qualifies as marital property in cases of dispute. The courts generally exercise this power in the process of granting a divorce.
Valuation of Marital Property
The rules for setting the value of marital property appear under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-204. In most situations, the Maryland courts determine the value of all marital property during divorce proceedings. There is an exception for pensions and retirement, profit-sharing, and deferred-compensation plans. The Maryland courts only determine the value of those benefits in narrowly constructed circumstances.
Award of Marital Property
The regulations for awarding marital property appear under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-205. After determining what qualifies as marital property — and the value of all marital property — the Maryland courts can progress to the award process.
Whether or not alimony is appropriate, Section 8-205 allows the courts to:
- Transfer an ownership interest to either party in retirement assets or real property;
- Grant a monetary award to either party; or
- Execute both of the actions above.
Before issuing an award of marital property, the Maryland courts must consider the financial circumstances of each party to the divorce. More specifically, Section 8-205 requires the courts to consider several factors, including but not limited to the:
- Monetary and non-monetary contributions to the family;
- Economic circumstances of each party;
- Reasons why the parties are requesting a divorce;
- Age and mental or physical condition of each party; and
- Value of all property interests held by each party.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal help with property division during a Maryland divorce, it can be highly constructive to consult with a knowledgeable 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 property division and divorce. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.