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Who Gets the Family Home in a Maryland Divorce?

Who Gets the Family Home in a Maryland Divorce?

Who Gets the Family Home in a Maryland Divorce?

My experience as a Harford County divorce lawyer has allowed me to work with individuals from all walks of life.  Regardless of the diversity of my clients though, one question is inevitably asked by all.  With so many unknowns to navigate through in a divorce proceeding, there is no doubt that, at some point or another, parties involved in a divorce proceeding will eventually inquire about a major concern: possession of the family home.  Specifically, who gets the family home in a Maryland divorce?

Use & Possession of the Family Home & Personal Property

During divorce and custody proceedings in Maryland, a party may seek to obtain exclusive possession of the family home and other items of property that are typically used for family purposes.  Such an award is entered in favor of the custodial parent.

This type of Court Order seeks to enable any child of the family to continue to live in the environment and community that are familiar to the child, and to provide for the continued occupancy of the family home and the continued use of family personal property by a party with custody of a child who has a need to live in that home.

Therefore, the sole purpose of the “Use and Possession” statute is to benefit the child or children of the family.  Notably, these provisions are not available to a child of a party from a prior relationship.

In awarding the “Use and Possession” of the family home and family use personal property, the Circuit Court will consider (i) the best interests of any child, (ii) the interest of each party in continuing to use the family home or any part of it as a dwelling place, (iii) the interest of each party in using the property for the production of income, and (iv) any hardship imposed on the party whose interest in the family home or family use personal property will be infringed upon.

The Maryland Circuit Court’s Order for Use and Possession must terminate within three (3) years of the divorce decree.  It will also terminate by operation of law if the party with the use and possession of the property becomes remarried.

Family Home

Maryland‘s “Use and Possession” provisions apply to the family home if:

  • It was used as the principal residence of the parties when they lived together,
  • It is owned or leased by one of the parties, and
  • It is being used, or will be used, as a principal residence by one of both of the parties and a child.

However, a “Family Home” does not include property:

  • Acquired before the marriage,
  • Acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party, or
  • Excluded by valid agreement.

The Circuit Court of Maryland may order that either or both of the parties pay all or any part of:

  • Any mortgage payment or rent,
  • Any indebtedness that is related to the property, or
  • The cost of maintenance, insurance, assessments, and taxes.
Family Use of Personal Property (Household Items, Motor Vehicles)

Maryland’s “Family Use Personal Property” provisions apply to tangible personal property:

  • Acquired during the marriage,
  • Owned by one or both of the parties, and
  • Used primarily for family purposes.

Family use personal property includes motor vehicles, furniture, furnishings, and household appliances.

In Maryland, furniture used for marital purposes is presumed to be jointly owned, regardless of whether one spouse used separate funds to purchase that furniture.  In the case of household goods and furnishings acquired for the use of the family in contemplation of or after marriage, the mere fact that the funds used for the purchase belonged to one or the other of spouses does not result in the furnishings in question being owned solely by that spouse.  It is to be presumed in such a case that the purchasing spouse made a gift of the property to the marital unit, absent of proof demonstrating sole ownership in one of the marital partners.  However, the marital gift presumption does not include items obtained via inheritance.

A party cannot claim use and possession of a vehicle owned by the other party’s business, even if it had been used for such personal reasons during the marriage.

If your divorce proceeding calls for dividing your main asset, the family home, rather than one party keeping it, read the following article for valuable information: Divorce: What happens to the Family Home?

If you are contemplating a divorce, or would like further information regarding who gets the family home in a Maryland divorce, give Attorney Gault a call at (410) 638-2600 today!

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