Maryland courts have broad powers in property division

On behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA posted in Property Division on Friday, October 17, 2014.

People in Maryland have probably heard stories about the property division process from a friend or family member who has gone through a divorce. In a divorce, the court has the duty to distribute the marital property of the two spouses. This equitable division can take many different forms, though, and the court has great powers when it comes to telling a person how to handle their property in response to a divorce petition.

In a divorce action, it is up to the court to determine the value of all of the marital property at issue. This often includes many different kinds of property, including but not limited to real estate, vehicles, financial accounts and retirement accounts or pensions.

The court has the authority to settle disputes as to the ownership of property claimed by both spouses, and if necessary, order the transfer of property from one spouse to the other. After being presented with evidence, the court may decree that one or both parties have an interest in such property, and if circumstances dictate, the court may order the two parties to sell and divide the proceeds of the property. The court may also order a monetary award, in which one spouse has to compensate the other spouse for the fair value of the property in question.

There are certain statutory factors the Maryland courts must consider when determining the asset division between spouses. The list is lengthy, but among these statutory considerations are the value of the property of each spouse, the circumstances that led or contributed to the breakup of the spousal relationship, the duration of the marriage, the age of each spouse and the physical and mental condition of each spouse. All of these factors must be considered, but it is up to the court to determine how much weight to give each factor in reaching a decision as to what constitutes an equitable division.

Source: Code of Maryland, "Article - Family Law," Accessed Oct. 12, 2014