The issue facing the court in the case, McGeehan v. McGeehan, was whether an agreement between two spouses entered into during marriage could be used to exclude certain property from being considered “marital property” under Maryland law, and thus subject to distribution in divorce.
Division of Property
The McGeehan couple separated after having been married for 18 years. During that time, they had eight children together and jointly owned three pieces of property. The first, “Embassy Park,” was titled in both spouses’ names. The second, “Mason Neck,” was titled initially in the husband’s name. The third, “Fairside,” was in both spouse’s names. The facts of the case are exceedingly complex, as the husband was involved in trading stocks and used some of his wife’s pre-marital assets to invest in the property transactions. The sale of a fourth property, “Log Jump,” was used to “roll into” some of the other properties owned by the couple.
According to the court, there are three types of agreements couples can enter to affect property disposition between spouses upon divorce. These include the separation agreement, the ante-nuptial agreement, and the postnuptial agreement. An ante-nuptial agreement is entered into spouses prior to marriage and settles the rights of the parties upon divorce. The traditional rules of contract law apply to these agreements. This means that contracts entered into under duress or incompetency are not valid or enforceable. Unlike other contracts, however, with an ante-nuptial agreement, the proponent must show that there was no “overreaching.” This means that there could not have been an atmosphere or environment of the confidential relationship such that there was unfairness or inequity in the result of the agreement or its procurement.
The trial court ultimately found that in this case, the husband had transferred the deeds of “Embassy Park,” “Fairside,” and “Mason Neck” to his wife in order to appease her for the loss of her inherited stock portfolio that was lost by the husband’s unilateral investments. On appeal, the court found that there was a valid postnuptial agreement to exclude “Mason Neck” as the non-marital property of the wife. The court remanded for the trial court to consider whether there was a valid agreement to exclude “Log Jump” as non-marital pursuant to Maryland law.
The division of property via equitable distribution can be exceedingly complex, which is why anyone considering divorce needs an experienced Towson divorce lawyer in their corner to ensure that your interests are protected.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Counsel Individuals About Equitable Distribution
Whether you are married, considering divorce, or already in the process of obtaining one, the Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help you protect your assets and ensure that your contributions to the marriage are not overlooked. To discuss your case, call us at 443-589-0150 or contact us online today. We proudly serve clients throughout Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County, including the communities of Baltimore, Towson, Essex, Columbia, Pikesville, and Bel Air.