Divorce is a legal action that can be highly complicated, to begin with. Ascertaining what is marital property, what is nonmarital property, and how all joint properties should be divided can be one of the most complicated divorce components of all.
Divorce is an emotionally challenging transition that creates roadblocks for spouses choosing to end their marriages. While no two divorces ever follow exactly the same course, they all involve several constants, and one of these is that divorce is destined to significantly affect you and your children’s financial future. The division of your marital property is an important component of this process and is a big part of the reason you need an experienced Annapolis divorce lawyer on your side who can protect your rights in your divorce.
In the State of Maryland, your marital property will be divided in a manner that the court determines to be equitable, which means in a manner that the court finds to be fair given the circumstances involved. When it comes to your marital property, the term broadly refers to all property and assets that you and your spouse acquired after you were married. It doesn’t matter who paid for the property or other asset or whose name it’s in. If you acquired it during the course of your marriage, it’s likely marital property.
There are, however, a few narrowly defined exceptions to this rule. Further, even that property that either of you brought into the marriage as separate property can easily transition into marital property if the separate owner among you failed to keep it strictly separate from your marital property.
Coming to terms with what is and what is not marital property can become one of the most contentious elements of a divorce.
The exceptions to the rule of everything you acquire during your marriage falling under the classification of marital property are certain gifts and inheritances. If either of you receives a gift or inheritance in only your name when you are married, those assets will remain your separate property (as long as you keep them separate throughout your marriage).
Nonmarital property is that property that either of you owned prior to the marriage and brought with you into the marriage, and it remains separate unless you gift or title it to your spouse – this exception, however, can be significant. The court’s presumption is that all the property you possess as a couple is marital property unless one or the other of you can prove private ownership.
Keeping nonmarital property separate is not always as straightforward as it may seem.
Things become even more complicated from here. Some properties are both marital and nonmarital. For instance, if one of you came into the marriage owning a home, that home will likely remain the owning spouse’s separate property. Any mortgage payments that you make during the course of your marriage as a married couple, however, render that portion of the home (paid for with marital funds) marital property. Further, any increase in the home’s value during the course of your marriage will also be considered a marital asset.
The designation of separate and marital property and its division can be difficult in even the most straightforward cases. There are, however, several factors that tend to make the matter that much more complicated, including:
Even when a divorce begins amicably enough, the division of marital property can quickly make things less amicable.
Once it’s determined what is marital property and what is not, which is no easy feat in and of itself, the court will go about the process of dividing your marital property between the two of you in a manner deemed fair given the exact circumstances of your marriage. As such, the court will take all of the following into careful consideration when determining this fair division of your marital property:
If you’re going through a divorce, you are facing an important legal process that will dramatically affect you and your children’s financial future and future prospects. While your divorce can be emotionally stressful, it’s important to protect your property rights throughout the divorce process. That’s where attorney Patrick Crawford at the Law Office of Patrick Crawford in Annapolis, Maryland, comes in. Mr. Crawford is a dedicated divorce lawyer who has the experience, commitment, and dedication to tirelessly advocate for a fair determination of what is and what is not marital property and for a fair division of that marital property, in support of your best interests. Your case is important, and we’re on your side – so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at (410) 216-7905 for more information today.