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Who should determine asset division - my ex and I or the court?

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If you live in Maryland and you and your spouse are headed for divorce, you likely have many questions about the process, especially if you've never divorced before. Depending on how long you were married, you may have accumulated many assets together. Who gets to keep what, and do you have any say in the decision? Believe it or not, you have more power over the final outcome than you may think.

Ideally, you and your ex-spouse would divorce on friendly terms and be able to discuss asset division amicably. Many couples use mediation to help settle issues such as property division and child custody. This method often allows the divorce process to move forward more quickly, and allows couples to have a say in such major issues. However, many couples are unable to effectively communicate without arguing, making mediation and negotiation useless. When this happens, the courts must step in and make decisions.

Maryland is an equitable distribution state, which means that assets are divided based on what is fair. If one party contributed more to the marriage - whether through income, child rearing or supporting a spouse's business, education or other endeavor - then he or she will likely receive more assets in the divorce. The split could be 50/50, 60/40, 70/30, 80/20 or some other percentage. If you contributed much more to the marriage than your spouse did, then it may be worth it to have the judge hear your case and possibly rule in your favor.

Property division can get messy when a marriage ends. In many cases, spouses hide certain assets so they don't have to be divided. Some spouses ask for insane amounts of money or assets and refuse to negotiate out of spite or bitterness. It may a good idea to discuss your unique situation with a family law attorney, and explore your options.


Source: FindLaw, "Divorce Property Division FAQ," accessed Dec. 27, 2014

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