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Property Division in Maryland

Divorcing couples are often surprised to learn that their definition of marital property is vastly different than the Court's definition. For example, you may be shocked to discover that an item solely purchased for your use, and bought with funds earned from your job, is still marital property.

In a divorce or annulment, the Court will first separate marital from nonmarital property. Marital property is real or personal property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of title. The only exceptions are inheritances, gifts from a third party, property acquired before marriage, and property excluded by a valid agreement. For example, property may be excluded through a valid prenuptial agreement, or through a separation agreement.

Once marital property has been identified, the Court will value it and distribute the value to the spouses equitably. This distribution is made taking into consideration a number of factors including the contributions of each spouse, economic circumstances, and the duration of the marriage to name a few. Except for retirement accounts, the Court cannot order a change of title, therefore a monetary award may be awarded to a spouse to balance the ownership of property.

With this framework in mind, divorcing couples often execute an agreement between themselves dividing their property. The couple may also request that the Court incorporate their agreement into a final divorce decree.

This article is provided for your general information by Heather L. Sunderman, Esq., an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Maryland. You are strongly encouraged to contact an attorney in your state for information on your specific legal issues.

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Maryland Family Law recognizes eight different grounds for divorce. Adultery, voluntary separation (for at least 12 months), imprisonment (with a sentence of at least three years and at least 12 months already served), and living separate and apart (for at least two years), are among some of the reasons. For the court to grant a divorce based upon any of these grounds, they must be proved in court through evidence and testimony.
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