Property Distribution and Monetary Award
Most people aren’t aware of all the wide variety of issues that spouses must address and deal with prior to the Court granting them a Judgment of Absolute Divorce. In addition to potential custody and support issues, one issue that people often don’t consider is the issue of marital property – meaning what will happen to all of their stuff when they get divorced. The distribution of marital property as part of a divorce is very tricky and complex. A Maryland property distribution attorney can guide you through the process.
Marital property is any and all property that is acquired by one or both of the parties during the course of their marriage. Something can still be marital property even if it is titled solely in the wife’s name or titled solely in the husband’s name – the property does not have to be jointly titled in order for it to be considered marital property.
However, the following property is not marital property:
- Any property acquired by one of the parties prior to their marriage;
- Any property acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party;
- Any property excluded by a valid and enforceable agreement; and
- Any property directly traceable to any of these sources.
If the parties cannot agree what happens to all or some of their marital property as part of a Voluntary Separation and Property Settlement Agreement, the Court will make that determination for them. As part of the divorce hearing, the Court will conduct a three step process to determine what happens to the marital property:
- Classify the property – meaning determine what constitutes marital property and what is non-marital property;
- Value – meaning determine the monetary value any and all marital property; and
- Distribute – meaning distribute the value of each piece of property on the basis of the contributions of each party.
Under the Marital Property Act, the property interests of each party should be adjusted fairly and equitably, with careful consideration being given to both monetary and nonmonetary contributions by each party. Once all marital property has been determined, valued, and distributed, the Court may award one party a monetary award to adjust the equities and to ensure the division of property is fair and equitable to both parties.
A monetary award is a Court order that requires one party to give the other money. The following factors will considered by the judge when determining whether to award a monetary award and the amount said award:
- The contributions, monetary and non-monetary, of each party to the well being of the family;
- The value of all the property interests of each party;
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the award is to be made;
- The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The physical and mental condition of each party;
- The age of each party;
- How and when specific marital property was acquired;
- The contribution by either party of non-marital property to the acquisition of the real property held by the parties as tenant by entirety;
- Any award of alimony and any award that the court has made with respect to family use personal property or the family home;
- Any factor that the Court considers necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award or transfer of an interest in the pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan, or both.
You need the assistance of a knowledgeable Maryland property distribution attorney to help you through all the ins and outs. Contact our office today to ensure that any rights you have in the marital property acquired by you and your spouse are protected.