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Marital Property Law in Maryland

The information on this page is for general information only and is not meant to replace legal advice.

Family Law varies from state to state and the information on this page is in regard to Maryland Family Law only.   Maryland Family Law is sometimes changed, and therefore any information on this web site could be changed without notice at any time.

Maryland Family Law is drawn from the sources of the Maryland Code, Maryland Court Rules, and Maryland Case Law.     The Maryland Family Law court system is complex and Maryland Family Law requires Judges to consider many variables and laws before making a decision in each Family Law case.   Individual laws cannot be fully comprehended without understanding how they interact with each other and within the elaborate Maryland Family Law Court system, and trying to interpret individual laws without understanding how they each interact with each other and within this system could decrease the chance of achieving an outcome favorable to you in your case.

It is in your best interest to consult an experienced Family Law attorney to get specific legal advice regarding your individual case or situation before making any agreements or filing anything regarding a divorce or custody case.

In Maryland Child Support is the only thing that is based on a specific formula -- Although there are various factors the Maryland Family Courts must consider, there is NO specific formula for determining custody, alimony, property distribution, and/or monetary award in Maryland.

Custody and alimony are discussed on other pages on this web site.   Marital Property Distribution is discussed below.

How "Marital Property" is defined in Maryland

In Maryland "Marital Property" means the property, however titled, acquired by one or both parties during the marriage.   This includes income earned, savings set aside, and retirement and/or pension rights accrued during the marriage by either spouse.

In Maryland "Marital Property" includes any interest in real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety unless the real property is excluded by valid agreement.

In Maryland "Marital Property" does NOT include property:
    (i)   acquired before the marriage;
    (ii)   acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party;
    (iii)   excluded by valid agreement; or
    (iv) directly traceable to any of these sources.

"Use and Possession" of Family Property in Maryland

The Court has the authority to grant "use and possession" of the family home and/or family use personal property for up to three years after the date a court grants an annulment, limited divorce, or absolute divorce
(1) to enable any child of the family to continue to live in the environment and community that are familiar to the child; and
(2) to provide for the continued occupancy of the family home and possession and use of family use personal property by a party with custody of a child who has a need to live in that home.

In granting a "use and possession" order, the Court may order either party, or both parties to pay all or any part of
(1) any mortgage payments or rent;
(2) any indebtedness that is related to the property;
(3) the cost of maintenance, insurance, assessments, and taxes; or
(4) any similar expenses in connection with the property

Distribution of Marital Property in Maryland

When considering the distribution of Marital Property in Maryland, the court considers the following factors:

(1)     Monetary and Nonmonetary Contributions;
(2)     Value of the Property and the Economic Circumstances;
(3)     Circumstances Contributing to Estrangement;
(4)     Age and Physical and Mental Condition of the Parties;
(5)     How and When Specific Marital Property was Obtained, Including Contribution by Either Party in Tenants by the Entireties Real Estate;
(6)     Award of Alimony;
(7)     Other Factors, including Potential Tax Consequences

Even when assets are disposed of by agreement of the parties, those assets must be considered in making a monetary award upon divorce of the parties.

"Monetary Award" in Maryland

A "Monetary Award" is an Equitable Distribution. The Marital Property Act in Maryland does not require an equal division of marital property, but instead requires "an equitble distribution." Although the Maryland Courts can order a transfer ow ownership of an interest in a pension, retirement, profit-sharing, or deferred compensation plan form one party to either or both parties, it cannot order a transfer of title of real or other personal property. The purpose of a "Monetary Award" is to counterbalance any unfairness that may result from the actual distribution of property acquired during the marriage strictly in accordance with its title. It is intended to compensate a spouse who holds title to less than an equitable portion of property.

The Monetary Award from one person to the other cannot exceed the amount of marital property owned by the payor.

Factors The Maryland Courts Must Use To Determine Monetary Award:

(1)   The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
(2)     The value of all property interests of each party;
(3)     The economic circumstances of each party at the time the award is to be made;
(4)     The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;
(5)     The duration of the marriage;
(6)     The age of each party;
(7)     The physical and mental condition of each party;
(8)     How and when specific marital property or interest in the pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan, was acquired, including the effort expended by each party in accumulating the marital property or the interest in the pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan, or both;
(9)     The contribution by either party of the acquisition of real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety;
(10)     Any award of alimony and any award or other provision that the court has made with respect to family use personal property or the family home; and
(11)     Any other factor that the court considers necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award or transfer of an interest in the pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan, or both

In Maryland, unless you get an Agreement specifying another date, the end-date for determining the value of property is the Date of Absolute Divorce -- NOT the Date of Separation or the Date of Limited Divorce.   So for example, unless you Agree otherwise, you each accrue rights in the other's Retirement through the Date of actual Absolute Divorce.

Maryland Child Custody Law Overview