Is Maryland a 50/50 Divorce State?

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Couples who split up frequently ask is Maryland a 50/50 state regarding divorce? It’s important to know your rights to property as early as possible in the divorce process. The question relates to how marital property is split up. When couples separate the most common issues they seek the help of a Maryland divorce lawyer concern who gets property and child custody and child support issues.

We find many people are unaware of divorce law until they consider divorce, separation or a limited divorce. They often assume they will get half of everything. This is not always true in Maryland which isn’t a community property state. Baltimore divorce attorney Randolph Rice looks at whether Maryland is a 50/50 state regarding divorce.

Community Property State vs. Equitable Distribution State

Marital property is usually split in half between the spouses during divorce in community property states. There are nine community property states. They are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, and Washington.

Property in these states is classified as owned jointly by spouses (community property) or separate property which is owned by one spouse. If the property is jointly owned it is divided 50/50 on divorce. In Alaska, couples can opt to join a community system.

The rest of the states including Maryland use an equitable distribution model. Equitable means fair but a family court judge will not always equate this to a 50/50 division. In equitable distribution states, the court may award each spouse a percentage of the total value of the property. This could be 60/40 if a judge believes a 50/50 split would be unfair for one of the parties to the marriage. Property divisions may be a percentage as opposed to a physical division. The judge can award each spouse personal property, debts, and assets adding up to their assigned percentage.

Although Maryland is not a 50/50 state regarding divorce, the idea of fairness runs through the divorce process. Equitable distribution is more complicated than community property. It’s important to get assistance from a divorce lawyer to fight your case for a fair settlement.

Factors that Control the Division of Property in a Maryland Divorce?

Equitable means just and fair but not necessarily equal division of marital property in Maryland. Judges must base their decisions on certain factors including:

  1. How much the respective spouses earn – If your spouse earned twice as much as you a judge may say his income bought more of your joint assets and split up property 60/40 percent in his favor, for instance.
  2. Household labor – The amount of effort, time and care you put into the house can swing the balance of how much of the family home you are entitled to in your favor.
  3. Fault factors – The conduct of the parties can be a factor in equitable distribution. If your husband cheated on you, a judge can factor this into how the assets are distributed. Likewise, factors like violent behavior and neglect have a bearing on the property settlement. Compensating the victimized party can be a factor in equitable distribution.
  4. The length of the marriage – The courts can consider the length of the marriage when looking at how much effort the spouses put into the marriage.

Does Child Custody Affect the Awarding of Assets During a Maryland Divorce?

Family breakups are often devastating for the children of the marriage. The law wants to minimize the disruption a divorce can cause to younger children. Maryland judges can award the marital home to the parent who has child custody for up to three years after a divorce. This may affect the overall equation meaning the non-custodial parent receives something else in return. Equitable distribution is something of a balancing act so as both parties get something. Whether you get what you really want depends on how well you made your case and presented evidence to the court. Although most contested divorces are settled in talks with the parties’ attorneys before the final hearing, these negotiations are based on the principals of fairness.

Can a Court Order the Transfer of Martial Property from One Spouse to Another in Maryland?

The divorce court cannot usually order one spouse to transfer property that’s in his or her sole name to the other spouse.

There are some exceptions. The court can transfer an interest in a pension, retirement account or other deferred compensation policies from one spouse to the other.

A court occasionally transfers title to property that is jointly owned by the parties and used as their principal residence to one of the spouses. .the court may also transfer personal property that was used by the family from one spouse to the other. This could be property like a car that’s used to take children to school. The court can also order the sale of property owned by both parties. They usually receive equal portions of the proceeds.

Are Gifts to One Party During a Marriage Given to Both on Divorce?

We are sometimes asked if gifts made during marriage become something that the court will split up and award to both parties. Property that is acquired over the marriage, by inheritance, gift or from by a third party is non-marital property in Maryland.

Although this is the legal position, married couples rarely keep everything separate. Often the gift or inheritance is commingled with other marital property. If you can no longer trace it to the original source it can become marital priority and fair game to be split up.

When you can no longer separate the dollar amounts and the property becomes commingled, it may be equitably distributed. Often drawing up a prenuptial agreement at the start of the marriage is the best way to safeguard assets and ensure your own property remains that way.

Talk to Our Baltimore Divorce Lawyer About 50/50 Property Division

At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we can answer all of your questions about separation, divorce, alimony, child support and all aspects of marital breakdown. Divorces are stressful for both parties. About 1 in 4 marriages end in divorce, according to Psychology Today. Some people remain in unhappy marriages because they don’t want to see their family home split up or feel a break-up will be hard on their kids. We understand all of these concerns. You should make an informed decision on something as important as divorce. Baltimore family law attorney Randolph Rice can answer all of your divorce questions and fight for your property rights when a marriage ends. Please contact him today at (410) 431-0911.


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