Complex Property to Divide in a Divorce

Complex Property to Divide in a Divorce

patrickcrawford | July 6, 2020

Most divorces are not cut and dry. There are intricacies and details that must be decided by either the couple together or by a judge. One of these details is the division of property. When a couple has complex property that must be divided in their divorce, the whole process can involve more research into what the assets are and what they are worth. As such, the process will also require more time. If you and your spouse have decided to go separate ways, you might be holding back concerned about what assets you will end up with and which ones your spouse will get. Calling a knowledgeable Annapolis marital property division lawyer as soon as possible is the best way to begin ensuring you receive what you are entitled to under Maryland divorce laws.

How does Maryland Handle Property Division?

As per divorce laws in Maryland, all property that a couple acquires during the marriage is marital property regardless of who paid for it or obtained it. Generally, marital property includes assets such as:

  • Houses
  • Cars
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Personal property
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Jewelry
  • Bank accounts
  • Pensions
  • Retirement plans
  • IRAs

However, if one spouse received property as an inheritance or a gift from a third party, it is considered non-marital property.

Non-marital property is any asset that each individual spouse brought into the marriage at its inception. This property legally remains in possession of the respective spouse in a divorce. It is protected from the debts of the other spouse. The downside is that if a spouse wants to claim the property as their own because they owned it before the marriage, they must be able to prove that fact. Working with an Annapolis marital property division attorney can help them ensure they keep what is rightfully theirs.

Maryland abides by the legal pillar of equitable distribution. Meaning when it comes to dividing property that is categorized as marital property, it must be divided equitably between the two spouses if left up to a judge. If there was a valid prenuptial agreement, property division will take place according to the stipulations in the agreement. Spouses have the opportunity to negotiate by themselves or go through mediation to come to a mutually acceptable agreement regarding asset division. If they cannot reach such an agreement, it is then up to the judge. 

Complex Assets in a Divorce

Many divorcing couples have one or more complex assets that must be dealt with before the process is finalized. Complex assists are ones that are difficult to divide between the spouses. They must be untangled and valued in order for equitable distribution to occur. Spouses who hire a skilled Annapolis marital property division lawyer will have the assurance that complex assets are being divided as they should.

Divorce courts usually accept the value of an asset if both spouses agree to that value. If they disagree, experts such as forensic accountants, business appraisers, and pension valuators will have to examine the value of a couple’s complex marital assets.


It is common for couples to own various businesses together, which inherently makes a divorce more complicated. There are three typical ways that businesses can be dealt with in a divorce:

  • One Spouse Gets the Business: If one spouse is more involved in the business operations, they will usually get the entire business in a divorce. The other spouse should receive a different asset that is equal to the value of the business. 
  • The Couple Sells the Business: In some divorces, neither spouse desires to keep the business. In this case, the business should be valued and sold. Then the couple splits the proceeds evenly.
  • The Couple Operates the Business Jointly: Divorcing spouses can also agree to continue operating the business together after the divorce. This is something that is not usually ordered by the court. However, if both spouses want to continue to be in business together after the divorce, it is a legal option they can choose. Before committing to this option, it is imperative that they speak to an Annapolis marital property division attorney.

Retirement Plans

If the couple shares a retirement or pension plan, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will need to be completed. This order tells the plan administrator that the couple will be dividing the plan’s benefits and provides instructions that detail the terms and conditions of the division, such as:

  • How much each spouse will receive in benefits
  • When the benefits will be paid
  • How much each spouse will receive

Multiple Homes

Some divorcing couples own more than one home together. Each home should be professionally valued. Once a value is obtained, each property will be divided as equitably as possible. This matter can become even more complicated if the properties are in multiple states. If a property is titled jointly and used as the principal residence, either spouse can request that the property be transferred to them.

Income Property

If the couple owns an income property that is jointly titled and acquired during the marriage, it is also subject to division. Since it is not the primary family home, it cannot be transferred to one spouse or the other. Courts only have the authority to order that the property is sold, and the income is divided equally. Property purchased during the marriage but only titled to one spouse is not subject to a request to transfer to the spouse without the title. Although, the non-title holding spouse can request that the court provide a monetary award for their interest in the property.

Restricted Stock (RSU) or Stock Options

No matter who received or obtained the stock options, they need to be included in the divorce as marital property and divided as such. When dividing stock during a divorce, it is essential to remember that even though employees are given a predetermined amount of RSU, they may not all be vested simultaneously. After vesting, these can become very valuable. However, they are an unsecured promise if the conditions of employment are not met. An experienced Annapolis marital property division lawyer can help a spouse ensure that all stock options are accounted for appropriately in a divorce.

Get Help with Complex Property Division with a Seasoned Annapolis Marital Property Division Lawyer

Attorney Patrick Crawford is well-versed in the complexities of this type of divorce. With a reputation for effectively resolving the challenges of complex property division, Patrick will do everything he can to reach a fair resolution for you. He recognizes that it’s challenging to decide the specifics on how to divide marital property, which is why Patrick provides an exhaustive analysis to you throughout your case. He then works with you to discuss the financial advantages and disadvantages of your choices. With his emphasis on client communication, you are regularly provided with updates and armed with the information to make the decision that is best for you and your circumstances.

You can reach the Law Office of Patrick Crawford by calling (410) 216-7905 or complete our online contact form. Reach out today to schedule your divorce consultation with a seasoned Annapolis marital property division lawyer. The longer you wait, the more you could jeopardize receiving the property that is rightfully yours in a divorce.


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