During a divorce in Maryland, the soon-to-be ex-spouses must endure the difficult process of dividing everything up: the cars, house, beloved family heirlooms, and more. It’s often a prolonged and even more divisive situation than the divorce itself.
In some states, divorcing partners’ property is managed under a “community property” statute that requires an equal 50/50 division of belongings. However, that’s not how Maryland handles the division of marital property.
Here, we have something known as “equitable” distribution. Instead of dividing the property into two equal piles, a judge decides on a fair distribution of property between the two parties. It usually means one partner receives a larger share of the property, but the judge deems it an equitable distribution for certain reasons that are unique to the situation.
As you can imagine, Maryland’s equitable distribution law can cause bitter disagreements to arise during a divorce. One spouse might be shocked to discover that they are receiving far less than what they believe is fair.
This is why you need an experienced attorney who can represent you in the division of property process. The team at Zirkin and Schmerling Law has spent years helping families understand the division of property laws in Maryland. We’d like to help yours too.
How Can I Choose The Best Maryland Attorney to Help With Division of Property?
A separation or divorce creates a tense situation between two people who were in a relationship. Dividing property must be handled carefully and according to the law.
Choose a Maryland attorney who has the wisdom, boldness, and legal expertise to provide the best representation possible. Before choosing an attorney, keep these factors in mind:
Experience. When it comes to the division of property, it takes an experienced attorney to skillfully negotiate with the other party and present your best case to the judge. Your attorney’s experience with this type of case could impact your finances and your future.
Results. You need a results-oriented attorney who has a solid history of getting positive outcomes in division of property cases. Zirkin & Schmerling has a proven track record with many positive testimonials from clients.
Reputation. How is the lawyer’s reputation? Talk to people you know who have used various attorneys for their divorces, including Zirkin & Schmerling. Ask your friends, your family, and others who have been through it before. You’ll find that the name Zirkin & Schmerling is well-known throughout Maryland for our level of experience and stellar reputation.
We Get Results in Division of Property Cases
It’s common to be facing a difficult battle over sorting out belongings with your ex in a division of property case. This is exactly the type of situation where a talented lawyer can ease the burden and help you with your negotiations.
Your attorney will help you understand the details of Maryland division of property laws and will look out for your interests at every turn. Whether you need to appear in court or handle out-of-court negotiations, a talented lawyer boldly stands up for your rights in every situation.
Don’t worry if you have a difficult ex who doesn’t want to agree to anything. Even in these challenging circumstances, you can still find a positive outcome. It’s extremely important to have the right attorney by your side.
What is Marital Property?
You may be wondering which of your possessions can be considered “marital property.” The basic definition is simple enough: marital property refers to possessions that were shared between both spouses or purchased during the marriage.
However, the practical implications of this term can quickly become clouded in misunderstanding, especially when two people have been sharing a home for decades.
Marital property may or may not include everything you want to keep or everything you think you deserve to have. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you review your belongings:
- Marital property almost always includes the family home and any property that the couple purchased during their marriage. The only exception to this rule occurs if the couple composed a valid written contract granting sole ownership to one of them.
- Any property that is directly traceable to property acquired before the marriage can technically be considered non-marital property. For instance, if a spouse sold a couch that they owned before marriage and bought a kayak with the money, that kayak can be considered non-marital property by the court.
- When marital and non-marital funds are combined to pay for an item or asset, that item or asset becomes marital property. If a couple uses some of their pre-marital savings and some of their current salaries to purchase a boat, then the boat is usually classified as marital property.
- Debts acquired during the marriage are also considered marital property. A court usually will not order one spouse to completely cover any joint obligations that the couple shares, but they may require one spouse to make ongoing contributions to a mortgage or car payment that was awarded to the other.
In some cases, the court issues a monetary award to one partner in order to ensure that the division is equitable. For example, one spouse may be given ownership of the family home, which represents a large percentage of the shared assets. To keep things equitable, the judge might provide a large monetary award to the other spouse.
How Will Our Property Be Divided During Our Divorce?
Remember, there is a difference between “equitable” and “equal” in a Maryland divorce. There is no guarantee that there will be a perfectly even split of property or anything else between two divorcing spouses.
A judge decides what’s fair. Every situation is unique. In dollar value or property value terms, one party may end up with 60% and the other with 40% as long as the judge finds that this is an equitable way of dividing things up.
Generally speaking, property one person owned prior to the marriage is considered non-marital property. For example, a precious family heirloom the wife owned before the marriage is unlikely to be awarded to the husband.
However, your home is a different story. Just because one person owned it prior to the marriage, or inherited it from a deceased relative, doesn’t mean they will retain it after the divorce. The marital home is generally considered joint marital property and will likely be divided either through equitable distribution by the court or through a mutual agreement between the two parties.
How Will a Lawyer Help Me With the Division of Property?
As you can see, the division of property is tricky and doesn’t always go the way you’d expect. It can be difficult to convince a judge that you should be allowed to keep certain property, including your home, car, and treasured family belongings.
This is why you need a talented lawyer to represent you. At this critical point in your life, you need a legal professional with experience in division of property cases who knows all the ins and outs of the law.
Your lawyer will help you deal with the paperwork, follow the instructions of the court, attend hearings, and negotiate any out-of-court agreements that are necessary. They will also help you understand your options under the law and avoid making mistakes that could harm your future or put your family in jeopardy.
Hiring a lawyer can be a huge relief because you’ll no longer worry that something you might accidentally say or do could ruin your case. Zirkin & Schmerling lawyers take bold and assertive steps to protect our clients and their children in division of property cases.
Take a Look at These Maryland Division of Property Resources:
- Divorce and Your Legal Rights in Maryland
- Maryland Division of Property
- Maryland Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
- FREE Case Evaluation (Online Request Form)
- Free case evaluation by phone: 410-753-4611
Frequently Asked Questions About Maryland Division of Property
Each division of property situation has unique circumstances. If you have a question about your case, we encourage you to reach out to us for a free evaluation. The Q&As below provide general information that may or may not apply to your situation.
Q: Which judge will preside over my division of property case?
A: It depends on your location and other factors. Your attorney will help you figure out which of more than 20 Maryland courts will hear your case.
Q: Do I have to hire a lawyer for our division of property?
A: While you don’t have to hire a lawyer, there are many compelling reasons to do so. If your ex has a lawyer, you’ll need someone who is equally or more experienced in order to represent your side. Never rely on your ex’s lawyer to give you advice because their primary interest is their own client. Your own lawyer will stand up for your rights in court or during out-of-court negotiations to get you the best outcome possible.
Q: Is Maryland an equal division of property state?
A: No. Maryland is an equitable division of property state, which means a judge decides what’s fair. Don’t expect things to be divided 50/50. Your best bet is to hire a lawyer who will help you get a fair chance at retaining your property, home, and other belongings.
Q: What kinds of property are considered marital property?
A: Normally, marital property includes things like bank accounts, stocks, bonds, pensions, retirement plans, furniture, appliances, and the other belongings inside your home. The home itself is often considered joint property but may be awarded to one or the other person depending on the situation.
Q: Are gifts marital property?
A: If a gift was given to one spouse specifically, a judge will probably allow them to keep it during the division of property. However, you may need to prove whether it was a gift or not. Inheritances are, generally speaking, different from gifts and may be handled differently by the court.
Q: If I inherited my home, can my spouse take it away from me?
A: It is very difficult to answer this question without knowing your exact situation. The marital home is generally treated as joint property unless one spouse had the home well before the marriage began. Even if one spouse alone inherited it, the other spouse may be awarded it – or its value – in certain situations. Talk to an attorney to get a better idea of your circumstances.
Q: Can my ex claim any ownership over my professional degree/certification?
A: The value of your professional degree, license, or certification is not part of a marital division of property case and remains with you. However, a judge may take into account that one spouse supported the other while they were in school to attain a degree.
Q: What about marital debts?
A: When determining the value of marital property, the judge will also look at your marital debts. You may need to involve a financial advisor depending on the complexity of your situation.
Q: What happens if my ex and I can’t come to an agreement over the division of property?
A: In most cases, it is in both parties’ best interests to work with their attorneys and negotiate a fair deal between them. This deal can then be submitted to the judge for consideration. But if you can’t possibly come to an agreement, eventually the judge will decide. The court may opt to sell your house or other property and divide it as the court sees fit under Maryland’s equitable distribution rules.
Q: Do I have to pay for a lawyer up-front for my divorce?
A: At Zirkin & Schmerling Law, there is no up-front fee and you’ll receive a free consultation. Any costs will be incurred at the conclusion of your case and you can set up a payment plan to make payments after your division of property case is over.
Have More Questions About Division of Property? We Have Answers.
We understand that division of property is a complex issue that’s difficult to understand. You’ve probably found all kinds of confusing advice on the internet. Plus, you might be getting mixed messages from your friends and family members.
That’s why we offer a free evaluation of your divorce case. At this challenging time, you need solid legal advice from a law firm that has plenty of experience with cases like yours.
At Zirkin & Schmerling Law, we charge no up-front fees and will help you handle your division of property from start to finish. We care about getting to know you and giving you the best possible representation. To learn more, contact us today at 410-753-4611 to get in touch with a qualified, experienced lawyer in Maryland.
The team at Zirkin & Schmerling Law has the boldness and experience it takes to handle your division of property case. We’re here to help you.