Under Maryland’s equitable distribution divorce laws, divorcing partners do not always split marital property equally. Instead, the couple must reach a settlement agreement or the court will divide the property in a manner that is fair. A lot of different factors can influence what the court’s view on fairness.
Discussing your case with a Maryland divorce and family law attorney from Hecht & Associates is the best way to learn more about what to expect when it comes to division of property during a divorce. Your attorney will fight for your rights, working to ensure a fair and equitable settlement agreement or judgment from the court.
There is much more to consider when it comes to division of property than most people realize. Your lawyer will be able to assist you with the following important issues that often arise during property division.
Navigating Maryland’s Equitable Distribution Laws
As stated above, Maryland—like most other states—follows an equitable distribution concept for property division. This is different from community property states which split property and assets right down the middle, giving each partner 50 percent of marital assets.
Maryland’s equitable distribution laws take into account factors such as each spouse’s economic circumstances and any marital misconduct.
For example, the court will consider if one spouse did not work in order to take care of the home and children while the other worked or if one spouse committed adultery when determining how to divide property.
Most couples prefer to divide assets as equally as possible through an out-of-court agreement. This is preferable for most people and is the best route to a fair settlement that leaves both parties satisfied with the outcome. The court typically honors these agreements.
Ensuring All Parties Disclose Total Income and Assets
In some divorces, one party hides income or assets from the other. In other cases, emotions run so high that both parties simply overlook valuable assets. Either situation can lead to an unfair settlement and ongoing legal issues.
Hecht & Associates works to ensure all parties disclose a complete list of income and assets. We work within the limits of the law to compel your partner to be upfront and honest about income. We can secure assistance and testimony from financial experts and investigators to uncover any hidden assets.
Determining the Value of Your Property and Business
Once you have a full list of all marital assets and debts, it is paramount to know exactly what each item or asset is worth. Appraising concrete property is fairly easy, but determining the value of other assets is sometimes difficult.
This is especially true when one partner runs a business or sole proprietorship. An accurate appraisal is key to a fair settlement or award, but often relies on information provided by one of the parties.
Hecht & Associates works with business and property valuation experts to determine the full value of the business before settlement negotiations begin. We also use other valuation experts to get accurate appraisals for real estate, pensions, and other assets.
Distributing Pension and Retirement Accounts
Dividing and distributing pension and retirement funds is often complex. In some divorces, pension and retirement account division is the most complicated part of property division and is usually one of the couple’s most valuable assets.
IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, pensions, and many other accounts could all be marital property subject to division in a divorce. Remember, though, that Maryland provides the court discretion in deciding how to divide property; in some cases, the court may divide the account while in others it may choose not to. Much depends on the couple’s other assets and other factors.
Hecht & Associates will help you account for your or your spouse’s retirement or pension plan and decide how and whether to divide it.
Reaching a Property Settlement Agreement
Most couples opt to attempt to reach a property settlement agreement themselves instead of having the court handle the division of property. However, even if you pursue this option, it is a good idea to work with a legal professional who can advise you on the legal aspects of property division and help you fight for a fair settlement.
There are several options for dividing businesses, real estate, assets, and other property. We can explain the pros and cons of each option and help you choose the options that benefit you. These options include:
- Splitting cash assets in half
- Dividing other assets so each spouse gets property worth roughly the same amount
- Selling certain assets and splitting the proceeds
- One spouse buying out the other, i.e., paying him or her for their half of the asset
Hecht & Associates Can Help
Hecht & Associates is a divorce and family law firm that represents clients in Maryland and Washington, D.C. throughout the divorce process. We can help you value your assets, divide property, and fight for a fair settlement or judgment in court. Call us today at 301-587-2099 to schedule a consultation.