It is helpful to be familiar with how property will be divided during divorce because it can help divorcing couples better protect their interests and prepare for the property division process. Property division is conducted in Maryland according to “equitable distribution” rules which divorcing couples should understand.
“Equitable distribution” rules mean that the family law court will seek to divide property as fairly as possible between the divorcing couple. Only marital property is subject to the property division process, though, so it is useful to understand the difference between martial property and separate property. Marital property includes property and assets that are acquired during the marriage. Marital property differs from separate property which is not subject to the property division process and includes property one of the spouses entered the marriage with, gifts, inheritances, personal injury awards and some other types of property as well.
Marital property is considered jointly owned during the marriage and is jointly divided during the property division process when the couple divorces. Divorcing couples are encouraged to work out a property settlement agreement if they can, but the family law court will help them if they are unable to do so. Because of this, divorcing spouses should be prepared to evaluate and prioritize their property interests. The family law court will seek to fairly divide property so that both spouses are in as positive a financial position as possible for the future.
Property division can be a challenging, emotional and even acrimonious issue for divorcing spouses to address during a period of significant change. Because of this, the more divorcing couples can prepare for the property division process using family law tools, the better position they will be in to reach a property division settlement agreement they can live with.