While most Maryland couples do not foresee a divorce when they get married, understanding what marital property means in the state can become useful if the spouses do decide to part ways later in life. This information might also become useful if they decide to enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Marital property and common law
Maryland has specific laws regarding marital property, including how different types of property are handled. In common law states, property bought by one person during the marriage remains their sole property, unless the person puts the property, such as real estate or a car, for example, in both spouses’ names. If there is no title involved and the couple is not sure how to deal with the property during their divorce negotiations, the property can be divided by the court.
If one of the spouses dies, then their separate property can be left to the surviving spouse, the person or persons named in the deceased’s will or named by probate. This will all depend on the type of ownership of the property, which can include:
- Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship
- Tenancy by the entirety
- Tenancy in common
Dealing with other arrangements
If couples wish to make different arrangements as to what will be considered marital and separate property during a divorce or death, they have options. They can sign a prenup or a postnup that establishes how certain property will be identified and how it will be dealt with in these circumstances.
Division of assets
Maryland follows the principle of equitable distribution when it comes to property division during a divorce. This means that assets are not automatically divided equally between the spouses. Instead, a variety of factors, including how long the marriage lasted and how much each party invested in the marriage, are considered by the judge.