Going through a divorce is never an easy experience. In addition to the emotional difficulties you’ll likely face, you’ll also have to deal with issues you may never have considered. Child custody, alimony and property division are common topics that will come up and property division can be confusing for many people.
What is separate property?
One of the first things a court will do in a divorce proceeding is to classify all of the couple’s assets as either separate property or marital property. Separate property refers to any asset which is owned entirely by one spouse. It can include property which was owned prior to the marriage, but also gifts or inheritances received during the marriage. Most of the time, separate property will remain with the spouse who owned it once the divorce is finalized.
What is marital property?
Marital property refers to all assets acquired during the marriage which are not separate property. Unlike separate property, marital property is divided between the spouses according to a doctrine known as equitable distribution. This means that the court has broad authority to divide assets in a manner which it deems is equitable, or fair. Sometimes this means property will be divided equally, but not always.
There are a number of factors the court will consider when it attempts to distribute property fairly. It will consider the contributions each spouse made to the family, including non-economic factors. The value of each spouse’s interest in the property will be taken into account, as well as their respective financial circumstances at the time of the divorce. The age of the spouses, the length of the marriage and any other factor which may be relevant can all be considered by the court.
If you have questions about how property division will be handled in your divorce, seek the assistance of a knowledgeable professional who is experienced in Maryland family law.