During a marriage, couples often combine finances and debt. What happens, then, when it all must split during a divorce?
Maryland law provides guidance on how courts should divvy up intangible and tangible property. According to the statutes, assets and debts do not have to divide equally as long as it is fair.
What is an equitable share?
A divorcing couple should try to settle their property division without a judge needing to decide. However, if this is impossible, the court will enter orders to get the proceeding done. A judge looks at overall marital property and debt and then considers other factors to arrive at a fair and equitable split. These may include things such as:
- The amount of premarital property and debt each spouse has
- The physical, emotional and financial role of each spouse in the marriage
- The factors that lead to the divorce
- The emotional contribution each spouse made to the relationship.
What property constitutes marital property?
Maryland family court only has the right to determine a split of marital property and debt. This includes anything that the couple holds jointly, such as real estate and bank accounts. It also extends to sole-ownership property and debt accumulated at any time during the marriage. Even a bank account in one spouse’s name is fair game for division.
What happens to separate property?
The only property and debts the judge cannot divide are those things owned before marriage. Retirement accounts, bank accounts and even credit cards that an individual spouse came into the marriage with are not subject to division. However, if any separate property becomes marital property by way of co-mingling with joint funds, it is fair game.
Asset division is one of the most high-stress elements in a divorce. It may help to enlist the assistance of someone well-versed in the process.