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If a couple has acquired property during their marriage and then begins a divorce process that property may be marital and, as such, will be subject to division between the parties based on what a court would believe is fair under the circumstances of the case. Maryland law describes “marital property” as all property acquired during the marriage with a few exceptions: any property given to either party as a gift from a third person and any inheritance to either party individually is not considered "marital property" even when it was acquired during the marriage. Property that either party owned prior to the marriage is not marital property under Maryland law. Marital property can include the marital home, cars, pensions or other retirement benefits, jewelry, furniture, businesses owned by the parties as well as other property. In some cases the court can order that certain property be transferred to a party. Otherwise, the court can order that the marital property be sold and the proceeds divided so as to achieve equity between the parties.
Marital property can be divided by the parties themselves, with the aid of a mediator, by Maryland family law lawyers in a collaborative setting or by family law lawyers negotiating the settlement directly as representatives for each of the parties. If negotiations are not appropriate, your family law attorney will be able to handle the case in court. Your Maryland family law lawyers at Lustig & Gudis, LLC can provide you with whichever process is right for you.
Whether through mediation, collaborative law or directly though the parties’ attorneys, negotiation may be a good starting point when making decisions about your property. It also may be appropriate to file for divorce in court, and then to begin negotiations (except in the case of collaborative law where the attorneys only represent the spouses in the collaborative process, and, if unsuccessful at reaching an agreement, will withdraw from the case and new attorneys will need to be hired. See the Collaborative Law tab for additional information about the collaborative approach.) The family law attorneys at Lustig & Gudis, LLC will assist you in deciding when to file for divorce in the court based on the facts of your individual circumstances.
The final goal of negotiations is an agreement that is satisfactory to both spouses. When negotiating division of marital property, each party is expected to provide all documents and other information requested by the other party. No one should agree to terms without having all the information about the other party’s assets, liabilities and expenses. Once an agreement is reached, these terms can be incorporated into a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. The agreement can also include decisions about custody, child support, spousal support and other rights incident to divorce.
If negotiation is unsuccessful or not suitable in your case, the court can handle the division of property. According the Maryland Family Law Article § 8-205, the court must consider the following when making a decision about the division of your marital property:
The court can give any of these factors the weight he or she believes is appropriate given the facts of your case. It is important to have an experienced Maryland family law attorney help you with negotiations and to represent you in court in order to protect your rights in dealing with the division of your marital property.