If you are going through, or about to begin, the divorce process, you are likely feeling overwhelmed at the number and complexity of tasks that you need to handle. One of these issues is determining the division of your property and assets. How these are divided in a divorce depends upon multiple factors, which are contained in statutes, which are laws passed by the Maryland Legislature.
Sometimes, a couple is able to work together to come to a mutually agreeable resolution to divide their assets acquired during their marriage. However, it is not always this simple. Whether a disagreement is preventing progress or the value or ownership of a property is more complex than average, the two spouses may need to rely on the help of a highly skilled Maryland divorce attorney, experts, a mediator or even the court to divide and reallocate the couple’s assets.
Equitable Jurisdiction In Maryland
It is important to understand that different states have different styles in determining the rights of divorcing parties to shares of their assets. Maryland is what is called an equitable jurisdiction. That means a judge is allowed to divide up marital property unevenly after reviewing the statutory factors.
For example, if one spouse has $4 Million in non-marital property, but the marital property of the parties is only $500,000.00, the judge would be within her rights to award all or most of the marital property to the spouse not having non-marital property.
Understanding The Different Types Of Divorce
The first step in understanding how assets are divided in a divorce is to determine which type of divorce you are getting. Marital property is never divided in a limited divorce, only an absolute divorce. It is important to understand this.
In an uncontested divorce, the couple may avoid a formal trial by working together outside of court to come to an agreement regarding all the terms of their distribution of property. Uncontested divorces tend to be less expensive than going to court because you will avoid legal fees and court costs, in addition to the time that you save. However, one of the chief reasons to rarely try to engage in the process of working together without a highly skilled divorce attorney relates to the assets you might miss.
For example, with government pensions, the other spouse is often entitled to what is called a survivor’s annuity, that is, a continuation of that person’s share of the pension after the employee dies. Many people would never think that adding this into the conversation about assets, which is why a highly skilled divorce attorney must be used to ensure you seek what you may be entitled to.
In a contested divorce, the spouses cannot come to an agreement about at least one financial issue, as well as other non-financial issues. In this case, there is a trial, and the judge, at the conclusion of trial, must apply the statutory factors and decide the proper division of the assets between the divorcing parties.
Division Of Debts In Maryland
It is incredibly important to understand that Courts do not divide most debts, unless that debt is attached to an asset, like a house. It is a common misconception that judges can divide debts, such as credit card debt. That is simply not true in Maryland.
Mediation and arbitration, may keep the couple independently represented by highly experienced divorce professionals without needing to go through the entire process of a full trial, although arbitration is similar to the trial process
Reach Out To An Experienced Maryland Divorce Attorney
It is incredibly important to understand all of the assets that exist in your marriage. Often, one or both spouses misses the existence of certain assets, such as the value of a business owned by one or both spouses, as well as the cash value of a whole life insurance policy. There are many other examples, as well, and only by speaking to a highly experienced divorce attorney can you be assured you are not missing any assets.
If you need assistance in allocating assets during a divorce, working with a lawyer is a wise choice. Reach out to SIEGELLAW for guidance on how to proceed and to ensure you receive a fair share of the property during your separation by calling (410) 792-2300 or by requesting a consultation online.