Maryland Divorce Attorneys Fight For Fair Property Division
When spouses divorce, they are free to reach an agreement about how they will divide their property. If they cannot agree, the division of property is governed by the Family Law Article, which states that all marital property is subject to equitable, or fair, distribution.
When the court makes an equitable distribution, it first decides which property is marital property and which is nonmarital property. Only the marital property is subject to equitable distribution. Then, the court determines the value of the marital property. Finally, the court decides the share of the marital property that should go to each divorcing spouse. At Haspel & McLeod, P.C., our lawyers will help you negotiate a fair division of your marital property. And if an out-of-court agreement can’t be reached, they will represent your interests in court.
How Does The Court Decide Who Gets What?
When the court determines the share of the marital property that should go to each spouse, it weighs factors including these:
- The duration of the marriage
- The current financial circumstances of each spouse
- The age and physical and mental condition of the spouses
- The contributions, financial and otherwise, of each spouse to the well-being of the family
- The value of all property interests of each spouse
- The circumstances that contributed to the divorce
- How and when specific marital property was acquired, including the effort expended by each party in accumulating the marital property
- Any award that the court has made with respect to alimony, the family home or personal property used by the family
The court cannot transfer ownership of property titled to one spouse to the other spouse. So, the court will grant a monetary award to one spouse to offset any inequity in the division of nonmonetary assets. Since 2002, our Frederick family law attorneys at Haspel & McLeod, P.C., have protected our clients’ share of the marital property.
What Is Marital Property?
Generally, all assets acquired during the marriage are marital property. The exception is property received by one spouse as a gift or inheritance, which is considered nonmarital property. Marital property can include cars, furniture, real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, pensions and any other property. Our experienced divorce attorneys can help you determine which of your assets are marital property.
What Is Nonmarital Property?
Nonmarital property generally is property that a spouse acquired before the marriage. It is not subject to equitable distribution, so it remains the property of the party who owned it before the marriage unless it is commingled with marital property. Also, any property received by gift or inheritance during the marriage remains the nonmarital property of that spouse. The spouse that claims an asset as nonmarital property has the burden of proving that the asset belongs to them alone. Our lawyers can help you meet that burden. In the event of a dispute over the distribution of the property, they may recommend mediation as a faster, less expensive alternative to litigation.
Who Is Responsible For Your Debts?
Debts, like assets, can be marital or nonmarital, based on whether the liability was incurred before or during the marriage and if it is associated with a marital asset. A spouse is not liable for contracts made by the other spouse solely in their name or for any debts the other spouse acquired before the marriage. A spouse also is not responsible for the other spouse’s business debts or for any court judgments that were entered solely against the other spouse. Your nonmarital property cannot be used to satisfy your spouse’s nonmarital debts. At Haspel & McLeod, P.C., our team will help you protect the assets that are rightfully yours.
Can An Asset Be Both Marital And Nonmarital Property?
Yes. For example, let’s say you bought a house before the marriage. But during the marriage, you paid the mortgage with money that both you and your spouse earned. The house, then, is part marital and part nonmarital. If, however, you retitled the house after the marriage in both of your names, it is marital property – unless you have a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that specifically excludes the house from the marital estate.
Contact Our Attorneys To Help You Keep What Is Yours