Columbia Divorce Lawyers Assisting with the Division of Marital Assets
Learn how assets and debts are divided in Howard County
When people are married, they work together for the benefit of the relationship. This means that when divorce happens, all property acquired during the marriage is divided without regard to how it is titled or who purchased it. Any increase in the value of property acquired prior to marriage may also be subject to equitable division in certain circumstances. Before any division of property is discussed, it is essential to identify and value every asset and every income producing property. Assets are not limited to homes, bank accounts, personal property and cars. Marital property also includes businesses, stocks and retirement benefits.
At McCabe Russell, PA, our Columbia asset division lawyers work with accountants, real estate appraisers, tax professionals and pension evaluators to determine the present value of each asset. Our lawyers are respected in Howard County and across Maryland for our tenacity in identifying all assets. We also are trusted to present and advocate for suggestions that can benefit both spouses while meeting our client’s priorities. When one party is being obstinate or untruthful, we take the final step and litigate your cause before a family court judge.
How does Howard County decide which assets are marital property?
Maryland defines marital property as those items acquired during the course of the marriage. There are, of course, some exceptions to that rule, such as:
- Gifts made by people who are not your spouse
- An inheritance from a relative or friend who is not your spouse, provided it has always been kept separate from the marital property
- Property that the spouses agreed prior to the divorce should not be considered marital property, through a pre-nuptial agreement or other legally binding document
Any assets acquired prior to the marriage could be considered the separate property of each spouse, unless those assets are comingled with marital assets, or one spouse offers those assets as a gift. However, the increase in value of the property may be considered marital property, under certain circumstances. This is why you want a skilled Columbia divorce attorney, who has experience with asset and business valuation, helping you from the start.
Our team uses different strategies to discover all the marital property assets, including:
- Examining tax returns and financial records
- Submitting written and oral questions directed to your spouse
- When necessary, using private investigators to discover marital assets
Other methods may also be used depending on the type of asset, such as reviewing partnership agreements.
How is the equitable division of marital property determined?
First, every client should understand that marital property is divided equitably. While the starting point for your negotiation may be a 50-50 split, that is not always how things turn out. Many times, we can obtain a much better division for our clients.
In determining what is a fair division in your divorce, the courts in Howard County look at the following factors:
- How many years the couple was married
- The age and health of each partner
- The financial status of each spouse
- The reason for the divorce
- What contributions each spouse made to the marriage, such as raising the children, taking care of the home, earning a living and supporting the other spouse
- Whether or not there is an alimony award
Common questions when it comes to equitable division
While every marriage is unique, some concerns seem universal, no matter how many assets you have. Some of the more common questions we hear, and can address, include:
- Deciding what do with the marital home. Should it be sold, or can one spouse keep it? How can one person buy out the other? Who has responsibility for the mortgage? Is a use and possession order merited between the filing of the divorce and the entry of the divorce decree?
- Analyzing how retirement benefits should be handled. Have the benefits vested? Should the non-beneficiary spouse take her/his share now or when the benefits vest? What is the current value of the retirement benefit?
- Prioritizing the needs of the children. Will my children’s inheritances be affected by the divorce? Can I force my spouse to include our children in his or her estate plan?
- Determining the business interests of each spouse. Can those interests be sold, such as with stocks? Is the spouse an owner or part of management? How can interests be transferred?
- Handling debts. Who has to pay which debts? What are creditors entitled to receive? Are you responsible for debts you did not know existed previously?
Every asset needs to be properly valued. Sometimes, one party may not voluntarily disclose every asset, which can ultimately lead to contempt of court. It is critical that you tell us the truth from the beginning, so there are no surprises. If your spouse has hidden assets, rest assured: we will find them.
How are business assets divided in Maryland divorce?
In high-asset divorces, there will often be at least one or more businesses to resolve. Dealing with the division of business assets in divorce is complicated. A business that is acquired during the marriage is considered marital property, however in some cases a spouse will enter the marriage with a thriving business that was started prior to the marriage. Your Columbia divorce attorney understands how to obtain a business valuation and how to work with the parties to come to an acceptable agreement about how the business asset will be apportioned.
Types of Cases We Handle
Our Columbia attorneys handle a variety of cases, including:
Speak with an experienced Columbia divorce lawyer today
During a divorce, you need a skilled lawyer to fight for you. Months or years after the divorce decree is entered, you don’t want to discover that your spouse failed to disclose assets or worry that you did not get all you deserve for you and your children. At McCabe Russell, PA, we work aggressively to understand your needs and get you the best financial resolution possible. To make an appointment at our office in Columbia, Bethesda, Fulton or Rockville, please call 443-812-1435 or fill out our contact form.