Property division among the parties is one of the more notorious elements of any divorce proceeding. To avoid discriminating against either party when determining how property and assets are divided, multiple factors are considered to ensure that the final ruling is achieved relatively.
To protect your assets during property division, you must first understand how the process operates and, from there, what steps you can take before the decision is reached.
In Maryland, men who want to protect their property during a divorce should consider the following tips and comprehensively and proactively approach their role in the settlement process to increase the chances of a favorable result.
Understand Equitable Versus Equal
In a Maryland divorce, property is divided among the involved parties based on what is equitable, not what is equal. Equality is splitting $100 among two people at $50 for each person. Equity is dividing the $100 according to who makes or needs more money, which could result in one person getting $80 and the other $20.
In divorce, the court will examine what is equitable when determining how assets are divided. If one partner is the primary breadwinner and the other is a stay-at-home parent, the income-earner will likely receive less than the party not working because they already have the means to support themselves.
Factors such as income, the potential to acquire employment, disability status, and childcare duties are some of the many elements contributing to equity determination.
In some situations, the assets received by one party may depend on their role; for instance, the parent who has primary or sole custody of the children may be granted the house so that the children have a place to live, even if the appraised value of the house is not “equal” to the value of other assets received by the other party.
Provide Evidence of Marital Property
The court will make its decision on property division based on the evidence it has available. In Maryland, men can increase their chances of success to protect their assets by compiling comprehensive proof of their financial situation. This includes collecting banking statements, bills, savings account records, retirement funds, and more.
Specifically, men must compile these records for assets acquired before the marriage. These assets are considered non-marital property; they were owned before the marriage and are not the partner’s property. This differs from marital assets acquired after the marriage was legalized and may be argued to belong to both parties.
Non-marital assets cannot be redistributed in the same way that marital assets can. Men can protect more of their earnings and possessions by proving which assets are non-marital property.
Remain Financially Consistent
Many individuals find it tempting to make large financial moves before a court determination for asset division. For instance, they may transfer their money to shelter it or make large withdrawals in cash to hide the value of their accounts.
It is unwise to engage in this behavior, as the courts have a look-back period that can span a year or more to determine whether assets have been obfuscated in this manner. The legal and financial consequences of attempting to defraud the other partner during divorce can be more severe than the original property division may have been.
Consider Alternative Settlements
Dividing assets during divorce often focuses on bank account balances and retirement accounts, but it does not have to be limited solely to these types of agreements.
When considering how property is being divided, each party may propose a settlement to which both must agree. Consider the cash value of assets compared to their utility to generate a more favorable outcome.
For instance, if the other party would benefit from having the house and you have no preference, consider offering the house instead of an equivalent value in retirement funds, which may require fees to access and thus cost more in the end.
Get Property Division Help from a Legal Team at SIEGELLAW
f you are currently undergoing a divorce and facing equitable property division challenges, it is important to work with a legal team. Divorce attorneys understand how to leverage a person’s financial picture to achieve the most favorable outcome possible, which commonly results in a higher value recovered during divorce than an individual can achieve alone.