According to the CDC, approximately 2.4 divorces happen out of every 1,000 marriages in Maryland. If you are going through a divorce, you may have preconceived notions about how the courts will divide your assets. Common misconceptions can lead to confusion and unrealistic expectations during the divorce proceedings.
Maryland law aims to achieve fairness and equity in the division of property, but this does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. As you navigate the end of your marriage, it is important to understand the actual practices of asset division to prepare adequately for the outcome.
Misconceptions about “equitable division”
Many people incorrectly believe that equitable division means equal division. However, in Maryland, the courts consider a variety of factors to decide what is equitable or fair, which may result in one party receiving a larger portion of the marital assets. The court looks at each case individually, taking into account the circumstances of both parties before making a decision. This process often leads to a division that reflects the contributions and needs of each person rather than an automatic half to each.
“Marital property” does not include everything you own
One of the most significant misconceptions is that all property owned by either spouse is marital property. In fact, Maryland distinguishes between marital and non-marital property. Marital property typically includes assets acquired during the marriage, while non-marital property consists of assets owned before the marriage, inheritances, gifts from third parties and items excluded by a valid agreement. Only marital property is subject to division upon divorce.
The importance of contributions
Another common misunderstanding is that the court only considers financial contributions when dividing assets. Maryland courts recognize both financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage, such as homemaking and child-rearing efforts.
Length of the marriage matters
The duration of your marriage also plays a role in how the courts divide assets. A longer marriage may lead to a more equal division of property, as the intertwining of lives and finances becomes more pronounced over time. For shorter marriages, the court may work to return the parties to their pre-marital financial states.
When going through a divorce, cast aside any assumptions about asset division and familiarize yourself with the state’s approach. Understanding how the courts divide assets will help you set realistic expectations and prepare for the financial aspects of your divorce proceedings.