Maryland Divorce Attorney: Division of Marital Property

When the circuit court is hearing a divorce or annulment case, the court shall determine what is marital property under Family law section 8-203.  Furthermore, the court “shall determine the value of marital property,”  as required by section 8-204.

Without a doubt, both the statutes and case in Maryland require that marital property be identified and valued as of the date of the divorce.

The court of special appeals held in Cotter v. Cotter, “We can give short shrift to the contention that the chancellor erred in evaluating appellant’s pension as of the date of judgment rather than the date of the parties’ separation. Our recent decisions in Dobbyn v. Dobbyn, 57 Md. App. 662, 471 A.2d 1068 (1984), and Gravenstine v. Gravenstine, 58 Md. App. 158, 472 A.2d 1001 (1984) now make it clear that marital property is to be determined and valued as of the date of divorce, not the date of separation.”

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13032698892310105273&q=cotter+v.+cotter&hl=en&as_sdt=4,21

Followed in 1985 in Wilen v. Wilen, One identified and valued, the court has the unenviable task of making an equitable distribution between the parties. The law does not define equitable distribution with the precision of a mathematician or scientist, but instead deals with determining what is fair under the circumstances of the case.

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13730959138688801336&q=wilen+v.+wilen&hl=en&as_sdt=4,21

It is important to note that most people I talk to think this means a 50-50 distribution, but that could not be further from the truth. Maryland law and the courts have made this clear does not require each party get half of the marital property.

 Equal Distribution Does Not Mean 50-50

The Court of Appeals made it clear that marital property need not be equally divided.

1.  1. Alston v. Alston

Court of Appeals of Maryland. July 23, 1993 331 Md. 496 629 A.2d 70 3 SEPT. TERM 1991

Divorce. Wife not entitled to half of proceeds from lottery ticket purchased by husband.

…or indirect contribution by the other, acquires specific item of marital property after parties have separated and after marital family has, as practical matter, ceased to exist, monetary award representing equal division of that particular property would not ordinarily be consonant with…

…indirect contribution by the other, acquires a specific item of marital property after the parties have separated and after the marital family…

…practical matter, ceased to exist, a monetary award representing an equal division of that particular property would not ordinarily be consonant with…

…equally.   As previously discussed, our statute requires “equitable” division of marital property, not “equal” division.   The Maryland Legislature specifically rejected the notion that marital property…

 

In light of this, it is important for the spouse seeking a fair share of marital property to highlight for the court the parties’ economic partnership. Examples of such partnership may include a wife demonstrating the fact that she was the primary caretaker of children allowing the husband to continue to work and make investments in his retirement accounts etc.

Division of marital property whenever there are significant assets at issue can be a daunting task. Do not make things worse for yourself by signing an agreement prepared by your spouse and his or her lawyer. You may be giving away important rights. If you have a question do not hesitate to contact me today.