In her hometown of Rockville, Emma finds herself at a crossroads. The once-unbreakable bond with her spouse has become fragile, and as their marital issues intensify, she contemplates the daunting prospect of divorce. As she sits in her living room, gazing at the walls that hold a mosaic of cherished memories, a single question lingers in her mind: “Who gets the house in a divorce in Maryland?”
Emma’s dilemma is not uncommon. Countless individuals facing divorce wrestle with the same question. The fate of the family home can be a pivotal aspect of the divorce process, carrying emotional and financial implications that can alter the course of their lives. As the uncertainty looms over Emma, she contemplates whether to hire an experienced and knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer to guide her through the complexities of property division laws.
Can you relate to Emma’s situation?
This blog, from a divorce attorney with extensive experience and knowledge, demystifies the process of dividing marital property in a Maryland divorce, explains what is considered marital property, separate property, and personal property, and equips you with valuable insights to help you navigate divorce proceedings. To discuss your unique circumstances with an experienced divorce lawyer at Fait & DiLima, call us at (301) 251-0100 to schedule a consultation.
Defining Marital Property and Marital Assets
In Maryland, the concept of separate property encompasses assets obtained by either party before the inception of marriage. Typically, the law regards inheritance and individual gifts as separate.
On the other hand, marital property encompasses all assets amassed throughout the marital union, including bank accounts, real estate, businesses, and vehicles.
Distinguishing between separate and marital property is crucial because the division of assets hinges solely upon the latter classification. Seek legal advice about property division from an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to determine whether your assets qualify as marital or separate.
Concerning property distribution in a divorce, Maryland follows the principle of “equitable distribution.” This concept means that the court seeks to divide marital property fairly between both spouses, although not necessarily equally.
Under Maryland’s Marital Property Act, all marital property is subject to equitable distribution. Marital property generally refers to assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of how they are titled or which spouse has legal ownership.
The court considers various factors when determining property division, including but not limited to:
- Duration of the marriage
- Contributions of each spouse to the acquisition and preservation of marital property
- Financial circumstances and earning capacities of both spouses
- Non-monetary contributions such as homemaking or child-rearing
- Age, health, and needs of each spouse
- Any agreements made between the spouses regarding property distribution
- Any other relevant factors deemed important by the court
As noted, Maryland law does not require an equal division of marital property. Instead, the court strives to achieve a fair and just outcome based on the individual circumstances of the case.
If spouses cannot agree on how to divide their property, the court will step in and decide. The judge has the discretion to divide the property in a manner they deem appropriate.
Consult an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer who can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation and guide you through the intricacies of property division in Maryland.
Safeguarding Your Assets
When going through a divorce, one of the most pressing concerns for individuals is preserving their personal properties, especially those obtained independently. It’s natural to desire a fair and equitable division. Fortunately, there are effective measures you can take to safeguard your assets.
One option is to establish a prenuptial agreement – a legally binding document that outlines the distribution of assets in the event of a divorce. Additionally, it can address matters such as spousal support and child custody. If a prenuptial agreement wasn’t previously arranged, a postnuptial agreement can serve the same purpose, even after marriage.
However, if these options are not feasible or your spouse is uncooperative, seeking the guidance of a skilled property distribution attorney becomes your strongest defense. By analyzing your unique circumstances, they can craft a comprehensive strategy to help you achieve your desired outcomes.
Take charge of your property protection journey with the reliable expertise of a seasoned attorney. Ensure a fair and secure division of your assets during divorce proceedings.
Marital Debts and Divorce
Dealing with debt during a divorce in Maryland can be complicated. Consult a lawyer to understand how Maryland courts will likely handle the division of debt. Generally, debt can be categorized as either marital or nonmarital, depending on whether it was acquired as marital property or for another purpose.
Maryland courts have the authority to divide marital debt, but not nonmarital debt. For example, debt incurred to buy a family residence or a vehicle during the marriage would be considered marital debt.
However, instead of relying on a judge to divide the debt, the parties should work out an agreement through negotiation. We advise caution when dividing debt because both spouses making payments can cause complications. If one person misses a payment, it could negatively impact the credit history of the other spouse. Instead, strive for a balance where one person takes on responsibility for an entire debt.
The division of property and debt can become even more complex when there is a family business or high-net-worth individuals involved. If you have any questions about this issue, consult a family law attorney in Maryland.
Exploring Options for the Marital Home in a Maryland Divorce
When facing a divorce in Maryland, wondering what will happen to the marital home can create additional stress and uncertainty. Here are a few options to keep in mind:
Selling the Home: Selling the home involves listing the marital property for sale, paying off the mortgage and any home equity loans, and then dividing the remaining proceeds as part of the equitable division of marital property.
Transferring the Title or Buy-out: If both parties agree, one spouse can keep the house by refinancing the jointly held mortgage and removing the other spouse’s name from it. The party keeping the home may also refinance the property at a higher amount to compensate the other spouse for their share of equity. Alternatively, other assets like brokerage accounts or retirement funds can be used to offset the equitable distribution of home equity.
Use and Possession: In cases where minor children live in the marital home, the custodial parent may be granted use and possession of the property for up to three years after the divorce is finalized. After this period, ownership will either revert to the person named on the title or the home will be sold. It is possible for the spouses to agree on a different duration of use and possession through mediation or collaborative divorce, allowing for flexibility while maintaining stability for the children’s education.
When dividing assets such as the marital home, prioritize what makes the most financial sense for your specific circumstances. Emotionally driven decisions can create complications in the future, so protecting your interests should be your primary focus.
Contact Fait & DiLima for Help with Family Law Matters & Property Division in Maryland
Do you have questions about separate property, personal property, and who gets the house in a divorce in Maryland?
With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our knowledgeable divorce attorneys at Fait & DiLima Family Law can guide you through the process of property division to reach a fair outcome concerning your family home. We’ll provide legal advice based on your unique circumstances and preferences as we move mountains for you. Contact us at (301) 251-0100 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.