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Understanding property division in Maryland

On behalf of Shelly McKeon

When couples decide to divorce or legally separate, they must tackle the difficult topic of property division.

When couples file for divorce in Maryland, they often have many issues that must be negotiated before the settlement is finalized. One of the most difficult topics to cover is property division, or who is entitled to what in the decree. While some people develop a strong emotional attachment to certain items, others can discuss the terms of the settlement in a more business fashion. It may help to understand how property division works, as well as the difference between marital and non-marital property.

Equitable division of property

Maryland is one of many states that follows the equitable division of property model when distributing marital property. Property owned by the parties is divided equitably according to the ultimate discretion of the judge presiding over the case. This does not mean that items will be divided evenly between parties. Instead, the judge may consider several factors before deciding who is entitled to what. These factors include the age, occupation, health, and earning potential of each spouse.

Type of marital property

In addition to homes, vehicles, and furniture, marital property encompasses all assets and items that a couple accumulated during the course of the marriage. This includes less obvious items, which include the following:

· Expensive collections, including antiques, coins and art.

· Loyalty points on rewards cards, such as flight miles.

· Lottery winnings and income tax refunds.

· Whole life insurance policies.

· Golf course and country club memberships.

· Intellectual property, such as copyrights, patents, trademarks and royal rights.

Furthermore, if any money was lent to a third-party during the marriage, each party is entitled to half the amount when the loan is repaid. Gifts that spouses have given to one another may also be able to be divided.

What is non-marital property?

Not all property is considered marital and is eligible for division in a divorce. Money given to either spouse through an inheritance, portions of personal injury compensation, or gift from a third-party may stay with the original owner. In addition, property that was owned prior to the marriage may also stay with the original owner as long as the title remains solely in his or her name. If separate money is deposited into a shared account with the other spouse, it may be considered marital and could be divided.

Getting the help you need

Going through a divorce can be extremely emotional. Finding a family law attorney that you trust may help to simplify the legal process. A lawyer in Maryland may be helpful in answering your questions, exploring your legal options, and making the difficult decisions you have to make during this hard time.

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