One of the most important concerns a client raises with us when they consult with us about a possible divorce is what happens to the family property when the divorce is concluded. Often, the couple has accumulated very significant assets during their marriage. Each of them is understandably concerned about what will happen with the property when they get divorced, and who will receive what.
Before we answer that question specifically for our client, we always ask them to bring to us all relevant documents concerning all of their assets. What the courts in Maryland do is determine what is “marital property.” Marital property includes essentially all the property that either spouse acquired during the marriage, real estate, such as the family home, investments, back accounts, retirement accounts, collectables, etc. Essentially all property obtained during the marriage will be considered marital property, regardless of how the property is titled (whether titled jointly or in the name of either spouse) and regardless of whose efforts created the property.
However, certain property is by definition not marital property. Property excluded from the definition of marital property includes the following:
- Property that is given to either spouse or that is inherited.
- Property that is acquired before the marriage.
- Property that is acquired directly traceable to property that was a gift, inherited or already owned before the marriage.
- Property excluded by a prenuptial or other agreement. The issue of what is marital property should be reviewed carefully with the attorney, because the determination can be very complex depending on how the assets might have been obtained and how they might have been used during the marriage. In addition, appreciation of non-marital property during the marriage may sometimes be considered marital property. Once the marital property has been identified, the court is then charged with the task of valuing it. In many instances, that is quite easy, such as a bank account. However, in other circumstances it requires more investigation, such as with the value of a home. At times it requires independent expert testimony, such as to value a family business. After the marital property has been identified and valued, the court then attempts to equitably distribute it. The goal of the court is to achieve a fair division based on many different considerations, including the contributions of each spouse to acquiring and maintaining the property; the needs of each spouse; the length of the marriage; the future prospects and financial circumstances of each; and the amount of non-marital property that each will have after divorce. It is critical to consult with your attorney to assist in evaluating the marital property issue. In many cases, the parties, with the assistance of their attorneys, can achieve a fair and equitable distribution before going into court. That saves time, money and stress. However, when court involvement is necessary, your attorney can assist in accumulating and presenting the appropriate evidence and arguments to best advocate for your interests.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones, & Miles, LLC, Help Clients Achieve Fair and Equitable Distribution of Family Property
The Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones, & Miles, LLC, advocate for clients going through divorce. Our lawyers are experienced in family law and will assist in marital property issues. Call 443-589-0150 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.