You may have to sell your house if you are going through a divorce depending in large part upon whether the state where you live follows community property laws or equitable distribution laws. Community property states require divorcing couples to split divorce assets in half. In those states, spouses may be required to sell their house so that the assets can be split equally between the two.
Equitable distribution states do not require that spouses split assets evenly as long as the split is fair. To determine what split would be fair, courts take into consideration several factors, including the value of the property, whether the property is marital or non-marital, the contributions of each party, and the economic circumstances of each party. Maryland is an equitable distribution state and therefore requires equitable, not equal, distribution of property.
The Maryland Marital Property Act
In adopting the Maryland Marital Property Act, the legislature determined that marital property should not necessarily be divided equally and that it also should not be presumptively divided according to which party has title to the property. However, judges in both community property and equitable distribution states cannot award one spouse’s separate property to the other spouse; separate, or non-marital, property includes property that was a gift, an inheritance or acquired before the marriage.
If the property is marital, the court will decide which spouse will receive the house and which spouse will receive a monetary award by taking certain factors into account, such as:
- The economic circumstances, employability and job skills of each spouse
- The age and physical and mental health of each spouse
- Whether either spouse engaged in marital misconduct
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marital home, both monetary and non-monetary (homemaker, parent, etc.)
- The value of, and source of funds for the marital home
- Which parent has custody of their minor children
How Marital Home Equity is Divided
There are several ways in which a judge can award shares in the marital home to both spouses. The judge may order the couple to sell the house and divide the proceeds in a manner determined by the court. A judge may also allow one spouse to have exclusive possession of the house for a limited time – for example, until a minor child turns 18 – after which the house must be sold and the proceeds must be divided in a manner determined by the court. Moreover, after determining the value of the home and each spouse’s share, a judge may require one spouse to buy out the other spouse’s share by providing for a marital award. Finally, the court may award the house to one spouse and award additional marital assets to the other spouse to offset its value.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Provide Experienced Representation for Divorce
If you are going through a divorce, a Towson divorce lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help you during this difficult time. We are committed to resolving your legal issues and helping you to achieve your goals. From our offices in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we provide experienced representation to clients throughout the state, including Hunt Valley, Towson, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Columbia, Westminster, Essex, Towson, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County. Contact us online or call us at 443-589-0150 for a confidential consultation.