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Maryland Marital Property

Maryland Marital Property

Maryland Marital Property

Maryland Marital Property: Although some Maryland divorce proceedings remain amicable and both parties work toward an agreeable outcome, this is not always the case.  For many, divorce is a long, hard, drawn-out battle between two sides who wish to stake his or her final claim.  There are certainly a host of family law issues that can become the center of bitter legal battles during the divorce process, but there is none more common than child custody and marital property issues.  Today, we will discuss Maryland Divorce & Marital Property in detail.

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Before we begin, it would be wise to define marital property.  In matter of law, marital property can be defined as the property, however titled, that is acquired by one or both parties during the marriage.  It specifically includes any interest in real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety unless the real property is excluded by valid agreement.

Marital property does not include the following:

  • Property acquired before the marriage,
  • Property acquired by inheritance,
  • Property acquired by gift from a third party,
  • Property that has been excluded by valid agreement, or
  • Property that is directly traceable to any of these sources.

In Maryland, a gift made to only one spouse is not considered marital property, but a gift made to both spouses may constitute marital property depending on the nature and circumstances of the gift.

Marital property includes the increased value of property acquired during the marriage, unless is can be directly traced to a non-marital source.

The Circuit Court will Determine Ownership of Marital Property

With respect to the parties’ marital property, the Circuit Court will determine the ownership of both personal property and real estate in its adjudication of the case.

In general, the Circuit Court may not transfer the ownership (the “title”) of personal property or real estate from one party to the other party.  However, the Circuit Court may transfer ownership of an interest in:

  1. A pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan, from one party to either or both parties;
  2. Subject to the consent of any lien holders, family use personal property, from one or both parties to either or both parties; and
  3. Subject to the terms of any lien, real property jointly owned by the parties and used as the principal residence of the parties when they lived together, by (a) ordering the transfer of ownership of the real property or any interest of one of the parties in the real property to the other party if the party to whom the real property is transferred obtains the release of the other party from any lien against the real property, and/or (b) authorizing one party to purchase the interest of the other party in the real property, in accordance with court-ordered terms and conditions.

Although Maryland Marital Property law will not permit the Circuit Court to transfer ownership of property between spouses (except via the monetary award provisions), it may order the transfer of certain property upon proper consent of the parties (such as consent on the record).

In Maryland, the burden of proof as to the classification of property as marital or non-marital rests upon the party who asserts a marital interest in the property, and that party must present evidence as to the identity and value of the property.

Marital property which generates a monetary award must ordinarily exist as marital property as of the date of the final divorce decree based on evidence adduced at the trial on the merits.  Therefore, property disposed of before trial cannot be marital property under most circumstances.  The sole exception is marital property that has been “dissipated”, which occurs when one spouse uses marital property for his or her own benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage, at a time when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.

If you are contemplating a divorce action and have further questions regarding your marital property and how a divorce may affect your assets, give Attorney Gault a call today at (410)638-2600 or simply use our online contact form and you will be contacted within 24 hours.

Further Reading: Divorce Court Decides What is Marital Property