The old saying goes, “what’s mine is yours,” regarding property in marriage. But does this hold true in divorce?
One of the functions of the circuit court in a divorce action is to equitably distribute the parties’ marital property. Marital property means the property, however titled, acquired by one or both parties during the marriage. Thus, property titled in the name of one spouse or owned by one spouse may nevertheless be marital property. The marital or non-marital characteristic of property is for the most part not a function of ownership or title. Marital property does not include property acquired before the marriage, acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party, excluded by valid agreement, or directly traceable to any of those sources.
Maryland law authorizes the circuit court in a divorce case to determine ownership of property. Specifically, when a circuit court grants an annulment or a limited or absolute divorce, it may resolve any dispute between the parties with respect to the ownership of personal property. Likewise, when the court grants an annulment or absolute divorce, it may resolve any dispute between the parties with respect to the ownership of real property. Once the court determines the ownership of the personal and/or real property of the divorcing spouses, it may issue a decree stating the ownership interest of each party and, as to any jointly owned property, it may order a partition or sale in lieu of partition and a division of the proceeds.
Although the court has these statutorily conferred powers to determine ownership in a divorce action, it may not transfer ownership of personal or real property from one party to the other, except with respect to pensions and retirement plans.
If you are contemplating a divorce or annulment, create a list detailing all property and assets to be split. If spouses are able to do so together and agree upon items, the process will move more swiftly, allowing a divorce to become finalized sooner. When creating a list of property, be sure to include the following items:
- Home and additional homes
- Bank Accounts and Securities
- Collections of Value
- Retirement Accounts and Plans
- Photographs and videos
Negotiations regarding the division are facilitated through attorneys for both spouses.
It must be noted that there are many gray areas when classifying marital and separate property, and in the division of assets and possessions. For more information or to address questions regarding property laws and divorce proceedings, contact the family law attorneys at Snee, Mahoney, Lutche & Helmlinger, P.A.