Property division can be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. However, it is one of the most important tasks that must be undertaken once a couple decides to separate. Attempting to divide the property and other belongings themselves may not be feasible for many reasons. If the couple does not make sufficient efforts it will be decided in court, and they may be unhappy with the outcome.
Before heading to court, these couples can make things easier, by figuring out which of their belongings are marital, and what they are actually worth. Maryland rules require that the parties put this in writing prior to any trial. This is where the distinction between real value and sentimental value comes into play.
Certain items, like houses and cars, can be appraised objectively, according to their market values. Other items, like family heirlooms, personal items, or a piece of furniture, could have more sentimental value. These are subject to human emotions, and the associated value is personal. Couples that cannot agree may end up at a hearing in front of a judge.
Allocation of Property
The divorcing couple must first decide which of the property is marital, and which is separate. If there is no prenuptial agreement, their marital property includes every asset accumulated during their marriage, except by inheritance. Separate property must be traced back to its origins and shown that it started as separate property.
In many cases, the two are “commingled,” or combined. This can apply to a joint savings account that one spouse owned separately before getting married. Property can also be commingled, if one spouse bought it before the marriage, but both paid on the mortgage afterwards. These situations can be more challenging, and an attorney can help determine the appropriate allocations.
Property Division According to the Court
In the state of Maryland, the law requires equitable property division. This implies that the division is fair, although it may not be perfectly equal. During divorce proceedings, the court will want the couple to divide up their belongings as fairly as possible, so they each benefit equally.
Again, it does not have to be a perfect split. The judge will divide things up based on their market value, which may require expert testimony. Certain assets like retirement accounts can be harder to discern, and a CPA or an actuary’s services may be needed.
To arrive at a decision, the judge may also consider how long the couple was married; each individual’s economic circumstances; any alimony being paid; living circumstances; how the property was acquired; marital misconduct; and the age, physical, and mental health of each spouse.
It helps if a couple is able to negotiate the property division, but this is not always the case, especially if there is sentimental attachment to certain items. It is important to keep in mind that an item with high sentimental value to one person may have a much more limited market value.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC are Property Division Experts
If you are going through a divorce and need expert, professional help with property division, contact a Towson divorce lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. We have your interests in mind when fighting for equitable property division. Contact us online today or call 443-589-0150. With offices conveniently located in Towson and Hunt Valley our lawyers are ready to assist families throughout Maryland, including the communities of Cockeysville, Lutherville Timonium, Upper Falls, Phoenix, Riderwood, Sparks Glencoe, Brooklandville, Butler, Stevenson, Glyndon, Monkton, Reisterstown, Pikesville, Owings Mills, Parkville, Boring, Glen Arm, Baldwin, Baltimore County, Upperco, and Hyde.