Determining who gets what assets in a divorce can be the most difficult part of the divorce process. Many states, including Maryland, follow the laws of equitable distribution when it comes to dividing up assets in a divorce. However, equitable does not necessarily mean that each spouse will get exactly 50 percent of the couple’s marital assets. Instead, equitable distribution states allow courts to determine the fairest and most equitable way to divide up assets, even if it means that the property is not split evenly between the spouses.
Marital vs. separate property
Before a court can start dividing up the couple’s assets, each asset needs to be classified as marital or separate property. Generally, only property classified as marital property will be subjected to equitable distribution. Keep in mind that assets that were brought into the marriage by one spouse could be classified as marital property if marital funds are put towards it later on (comingled funds).
- Marital property typically refers to any property acquired during the marriage (e.g. marital home, family vehicle, joint bank account).
- Separate property typically refers to property acquired by one spouse before the marriage or intended for only one spouse (e.g. inheritance, gift)
In addition to determining whether each asset is ‘marital’ or ‘separate’ property, the court will also determine the fair market value of each asset.
Factors courts consider during property division process
Under Md. Code, Fam. Law, Sec. 8-205(b), courts will consider numerous factors when determining how to equitably distribute marital property. These factors include:
- Length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s age, health, education, and job skills
- Contributions to the marriage, financial and otherwise
- Each spouse’s current financial status
- Each spouse’s separate property/assets
A skilled attorney can help you with the complex property division process and handle any issues that arise.