Maryland Monetary Award
In general, if a divorcing party seeks a Maryland monetary award, the Circuit Court must undertake a mandatory 3-step process. First, for each disputed item of property, the Circuit Court must determine whether it is marital or non-marital. Second, it must determine the value of all marital property. Lastly, it must decide if the division of marital property according to title would be unfair. In an unfairness exists, the court may make a monetary award to rectify any inequity created by the way in which property acquired during the marriage was titled. Failure to comply with the three step process requires that the monetary award be vacated.
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The purpose of monetary awards is to achieve equity between the spouses where one spouse has a significantly higher percentage of marital assets titled in his or her name. A Maryland monetary award is intended to counterbalance any unfairness that may result from the actual distribution of property acquired during the marriage strictly in accordance with its title.
The statutory factors that the Circuit Court must consider in determining the amount and method of payment of a monetary award, or in determining the transfer of ownership of certain specified interests in property, or both, are as follows:
- The monetary contributions and the non-monetary contributions of each party to the well-being of the family,
- The value of all property interests of each party,
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the monetary award is to be made,
- The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties,
- The duration of the marriage,
- The age of each party,
- The physical and mental condition of each party,
- How and when specific marital property or specified interests in property was acquired, including the effort expended by each party in accumulating the marital property or the specified interests, or both,
- The contribution by either party of certain specified property to the acquisition of real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety,
- Any award of alimony and any award or other provision that the Circuit Court has made with respect to family use personal property or the family home, and
- And other factor that the Circuit Court considers necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive a a fair and equitable monetary award, or transfer of specified interests in property, or both.
Maryland law requires “equitable” not “equal” division of property once it is determined to be marital in nature. Therefore, the Judge must avoid any temptation to divide marital property equally (i.e., 50/50) because the statute requires equitable division, not equal division. [Read these Equitable Distribution Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.]
The grant of monetary award is discretionary to the Circuit Court. The court does not necessarily have to enter a monetary award for either party. The only standard is that the court is required to consider the statutory factors in rendering its decision. Likewise, the amount of the award and its method of payment are discretionary with the court.
To the extent that any part of a monetary award remains due and owing, it may be reduced to a judgment and entered by the clerk of the court for enforcement purposes.
To learn more about Maryland monetary awards, or to discuss your Maryland monetary award with a trusted family law attorney, call (410) 638-2600 today! Or, simply use our online contact form and you will be responded to within 24 hours.