Divorce And Property
For some couples, the most stressful aspect of a divorce is how property will be divided when the spouses part ways. In some cases, wealthy couples would prefer to keep their financial matters private. It is important to retain a family law attorney who understands how to negotiate divorce and property division with tact and discretion, and who also knows how to fight aggressively for a client's interests in court. At Felsen & Sargent, our Rockville divorce lawyers provide trustworthy legal representation for property division disputes.Property Division during a Divorce
Maryland is an equitable distribution state. This means that the property division during a divorce will be fair, but it may not necessarily be an even 50-50 split.
The first issue when dividing a couple's property is determining whether the property should be considered marital or separate property. Separate property is property that was owned before the marriage by one spouse or that was acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage. A spouse can keep his or her own separate property. Marital property is any other property acquired during the marriage, such as income or real property held by the couple as tenants by the entirety, without any agreement otherwise. Marital property may include bank accounts, the family home, businesses, vehicles, furniture, jewelry, IRAs, pensions, retirement plans, and stocks. The value of a professional license acquired during a marriage is not considered marital property in Maryland.
In some cases, couples have determined what will be marital property ahead of time by drafting a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Assuming the agreement is enforceable, a prenuptial agreement can simplify property division during a divorce. In order for a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable, it must be in writing and signed by each spouse after each spouse has given a full disclosure of assets and debts, unless a spouse waived the right to this information. However, sometimes a prenuptial agreement can be challenged on grounds such as fraud, coercion, mistake, undue influence, or unconscionability.
When marital property and separate property have been commingled, the division of property can be particularly complex. It may be necessary to retain experts to trace the funds to determine whether an asset should be treated as marital or separate property. For example, if both spouses pay for a renovation on a house owned separately by one spouse, it may be difficult to determine whether the house should be treated as separate property or marital property. The court applies a source of funds rule to determine the proportions of separate and marital property that have been put into the house.
When spouses cannot make these decisions on their own or through mediation, it may be necessary to present the matter to a judge and make use of professional accountants and appraisers. Sometimes couples keep a family home jointly owned with an agreement to sell the home when the children are done with school.
If a couple cannot come to an agreement, the court will also divide debts accrued during the marriage. These can include credit card debt, medical debt for children, mortgages, or car loans. The court will consider factors like the length of the marriage, any alimony award, the disposition of the family home, each spouse's contributions to the family's wellbeing, each spouse's financial circumstances, each spouse's age and health, and any marital misconduct that contributed to the divorce.Explore Your Options with a Divorce Lawyer in Rockville
At Felsen & Sargent, our Rockville divorce attorneys can provide legal guidance to spouses concerned about the property division process. We can assist individuals in Silver Spring, Frederick, Upper Marlboro, and communities throughout Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. Call us at (301) 251-4010 or complete our online form to set up a free consultation. We also are available if you need a child custody attorney or assistance in other family law matters.