How to Protect Your Assets in a Marital Property Dispute in Maryland
Take a look at how to protect your assets in a marital property dispute. Click to learn what to do, how property is divided, and more in a Maryland divorce.
Did you know that one of the most common reasons for divorce is infidelity? About 20 to 40% of marriages break down because of extra-marital affairs. Other reasons include trouble with finances, lack of communication, and constant arguing.
Arguments about finances and financial incompatibility can impact all parts of your life including your divorce proceedings. If you are dealing with a marital property dispute, you are adding more stress to an already stressful situation. It can also end up prolonging the dispute and cost you more money.
Before you get into trouble for transferring property immediately before filing for divorce, you need to understand your right and obligations. Read on to learn more.
1) Under Your Rights and Obligations
Jeff Bezos’s divorce settlement was Amazon stocks worth an estimated $38 billion. Mackenzie Scott, now remarried, is one of the wealthiest women in the world and a philanthropist supporting organizations that have been historically underfunded and overlooked. You may not have a net worth of $131 billion like Bezos, but a property dispute can still hurt your finances.
To help protect your assets, you need to understand your rights and obligations in Maryland. Without this, you could end up making the wrong financial decisions that could back to haunt you. You could also enter into an unfair arrangement that can last a long time.
2) Remember Equitable Distribution Is Not Always Equal Distribution
Maryland law requires courts to divide marital property “equitably”. This means that courts don’t simply divide the assets 50-50 but distribute the marital assets in a way that’s fair taking into account all of the circumstances. In practice, this could still mean that the assets are divided equally, but it depends on your specific situation.
Some factors the courts look at are:
- Monetary or non-monetary contributions of both spouse
- Value of the property in each spouse’s name
- Economic circumstances of both parties
- Age of both parties
- Duration of marriage
A common example is where you or your spouse have stayed at home to take care of the children. Rather than only financial contributions, courts will consider other non-monetary contributions to determine equitable distribution. Where you or your spouse didn’t complete your education or put your career on hold when you got married, this can play a role in determining the distribution.
3) Know What’s Marital Property and What Isn’t
Marital property includes any property that was acquired during the marriage. It can be under your name, your spouse’s name, or both of your names. Don’t forget your vacation properties or your timeshares.
Your personal property also falls under marital property as well as intellectual property rights. This is a broad net that includes all property you own and must be divided equitably.
Also, remember that some property can be part marital and part non-marital. Usually, this is the marital home that you may have bought before you got married. If marital funds were used to pay the mortgage or make renovations, then your spouse is entitled to an equitable share of the increase in value of the property.
4) Keep Proper Records
To protect your assets, you want to make sure you have the right evidence supporting your position. You may be wondering why that’s important. It’s because Maryland law considers property to be “marital property” or “separate property”.
Separate property is considered “non-marital property” and does not need to be divided. Any property that you acquired before marriage is considered separate property. An engagement ring bought before the marriage would be non-marital property.
Any gifts or inheritances you received, whether prior to or during your marriage, are also separate property. If you used your inheritance to buy some property, keep records of this because the Courts will trace the funds back to the inheritance. If you can show the tracing of funds, you can treat it as separate property.
4) Don’t Make Hasty Financial Decisions
Don’t rush into any financial decisions. You may think you can transfer property or drain your bank account immediately before filing for divorce, but this is a bad idea. Courts don’t look at such decisions positively.
This is called the “dissipation” of marital assets. It includes any action where marital property is used, given away, wasted, transferred, mismanaged, or converted. Gambling, drinking, or reckless spending are all factors that can significantly influence the court’s discretion in determining equitable division.
You could end up getting a worse settlement because of such behavior. A safer and smarter route is to understand your obligations and keep proper records. Make sure you know exactly what property non-marital property is, so you can protect those assets in a marital dispute.
5) Hire a Divorce Lawyer
Consider hiring a family law attorney because they will know exactly what property falls within the definition of “marital property”. They can help you understand what evidence to show in support of non-marital property. They can also provide direction and arguments to the court on what exactly is a “fair” distribution.
Because fairness depends on so many different factors, you need to tell your story and your divorce lawyer can help you with that. Finding a lawyer can be challenging, but you can find the best lawyer by considering your budget, reading online reviews, and asking for testimonials.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the lawyer’s experience. A good spousal support lawyer is never afraid of questions and will take the time to communicate openly and honestly.
Get Help With Marital Property Dispute
A marital property dispute is challenging and can end up extending the divorce proceedings for years. You can protect your assets in a property by understanding the law and keeping proper evidence. The support of a child custody lawyer can help you deal with issues easily and smoothly giving you peace of mind.
Need the help of an experienced and qualified alimony support attorney? Contact us today for a free consultation. We are responsive, focused, and obsessed with getting the details right.