If you are getting, or thinking of getting a divorce, you probably have a lot of questions. Read below for information about how property division and alimony work in a Maryland divorce. For information on child custody and child support, also see our page on Custody. If you are going through a divorce and want to get it resolved as quickly and effectively as possible, fill out our contact form and speak to an attorney who can help.
- Q: Is it true that marital property is divided 50/50 in Maryland?
- A: No. When you get a divorce in Maryland the Court must first determine whether property is marital or separate and what its value is. (See below for more information on marital and separate property). After these determinations have been made Maryland law requires the Court to make an “equitable” division of the marital assets. If you have any property that is determined to be separate property, then the Court cannot divide that property. The marital property will be divided by the Court, but the Court is not required to divide it equally. Rather, the Court will consider a number of factors to determine how to divide the marital property based on the evidence presented by each side at trial.
- Q: How does the Court determine what is marital and what is separate?
- A: Separate property is property that you acquired prior to the marriage or that you acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage. This property cannot be divided or awarded to your spouse in a divorce. If the value of your separate property is disproportionately large compared with your spouse, the Court may consider that fact in determining how to divide the marital assets, but that only happens in rare cases.
Marital Property is property acquired during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled or who paid for it. Additionally, any real property (real estate) titled to both you and your spouse, even if it was purchased before the marriage, is presumed to be marital property.
With some exceptions, the Court cannot order a party to transfer title of any property to the other spouse, even if it is marital. In order make the division of property equitable the Court can order one spouse to pay a monetary award to the other spouse. The exceptions to this rule are pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plans, family use personal property (subject to the consent of any lienholders), and real property jointly owned by the parties and used as the principal residence of the parties when they lived together (subject to the terms of any lien).
- Q: Do the years we were together but not married factor into division of property?
- A: No. The Court will focus only on what was acquired during the marriage in its determination of what is marital property. The exception to this rule is that if you and your spouse purchased a home together before the marriage and still owned it after the marriage it will be considered marital property.
- Q: Can my spouse have rights to the marital home even if it is titled to me, or I paid the mortgage?
- A: Yes. If the home that you shared during your marriage was purchased during the marriage it will be considered marital property no matter who it is titled to or who pays for it. If the home is titled to you and you pay the mortgage but it was purchased prior to the marriage it may be considered partially separate property to account for the time that you did not share it with your spouse, but for the time that it was the marital home it will be considered partially marital property.
- Q: If I or my spouse own a business can the Court give the non-owner spouse an interest in the business?
- A: No. The Court cannot award a non-owner spouse an interest in the business. If your spouse contends that the business is marital property and the evidence supports that assertion then the Court can make a monetary award to adjust the equities or divide other marital property to account for the non-owner spouse’s marital portion of the business.
- Q: Are my spouse or myself entitled to alimony?
- A: Maybe. There are two types of alimony in Maryland and a series of factors that the Court must specifically consider before making an award of alimony.
Indefinite alimony is an award of alimony that is paid regularly and does not have a specified date of termination. Generally indefinite alimony will end upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving party. It can be awarded in cases where one spouse is not self-supporting and is unable to become self-supporting (for example where one spouse is disabled and cannot work). Indefinite alimony can also be awarded where even after the lower earning spouse has done as much as possible toward becoming self-supporting, the difference in the income and lifestyles of the parties will be “unconscionably disparate”. Indefinite alimony is usually only appropriate in the case of a long marriage, but a long marriage is not required for an award of indefinite alimony.
The more common type of alimony awarded is rehabilitative alimony. This is alimony awarded to the requesting spouse for the purpose of assisting him/her in “getting back on their feet”. It is intended to help support the spouse while they obtain the job training or education that they need to become self-supporting.
In making an award of alimony the Court must consider several factors including, but not limited to, the length of the marriage, the ability of the requesting spouse to be or become self-supporting, the monetary and non-monetary contributions of each party to the well-being of the family, the circumstances that led to the divorce, and several other factors including other factors that the court deems necessary or appropriate to consider.