Posts Tagged ‘property settlement’

Dividing Property in Divorce: What’s Separate & What’s Marital?

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In a divorce, dividing up property is much more complicated than figuring out who gets to keep the good china and who takes the comfy recliner. There are many factors to consider, including who purchased the property, when it was purchased, and whether the other spouse contributed to the upkeep of said property. Property in a divorce falls into two main categories: Separate and marital.

What is the difference between separate property and marital property?

Separate property is property that either was acquired prior to the marriage, after the date of separation, or property that is exempted from being considered jointly held, such as gifts or inheritances from family members. Spouses can have specific agreements that supersede this general rule, such as prenuptial agreements or written contracts stating that specific property acquired during the marriage remains the sole property of one spouse.

Marital property, on the other hand, is property acquired during the course of the marriage. Separate property can become, at least in part, marital property if marital funds or efforts were used to maintain or improve the property during the marriage. Examples of this would be income earned during the marriage used to improve a home bought prior to the marriage or a spouse’s bookkeeping skills used to grow a business founded prior to the marriage. The spouse who contributed to the value increase is entitled to a portion of that once-separate property upon the divorce. [1]

How is marital property distributed in Maryland?

Maryland is considered an equitable property state, as opposed to a community property state. What this means is that the court can divvy up all marital property and debt in equitable shares, based upon various factors, and isn’t required to divide everything exactly down the middle. Some factors the court may consider include:

  • What each spouse contributed to the marriage, financially and otherwise;
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse;
  • How and when specific assets were acquired; and
  • Whether there was any marital misconduct on the part of one or both spouses.

If one spouse takes on a larger share of the marital debts, for example, he or she may be awarded a larger share of the assets to offset the debt. Though it’s not possible to absolutely predict what a court would determine in dividing up property and debts during a divorce, consulting with a licensed, experienced family law attorney can give you an idea of what the division may look like. [2]

I want to protect my assets as much as possible in the event of a divorce. What should I do?

Do consider putting into place a premarital or prenuptial agreement prior to your marriage. This document can protect any assets you may own now that may come into question in the event of a divorce.

Do use only nonmarital property to purchase other property you want considered nonmarital. For example, if you wish to sell a nonmarital car to purchase a plot of land that you alone will maintain and control, do not utilize any marital funds to make or maintain this purchase.

Do keep accurate, complete records of all nonmarital property and funds, and how they are used. If you can show a paper trail of money used only for nonmarital purchases, it is less likely to be considered marital property upon divorce.

Don’t deposit any income earned during the marriage into a nonmarital bank account. Keep the two separate.

Don’t assume that all property owned before marriage is automatically considered nonmarital. If you purchased a home prior to the marriage, then used marital funds to make repairs or improvements, a portion of the home’s value can be considered marital and subject to division.

Don’t open a joint bank account with nonmarital funds. Even if you plan to keep accurate records as to what funds are marital and what are nonmarital, it’s better to just create separate accounts. [3]

Experienced Divorce Attorney in Rockville, Maryland

Have questions about what property may be considered separate and what’s marital? Or have other questions related to divorce, child custody, or family law? Contact the Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado for an appointment with an experienced, compassionate family law attorney.

[1] ”Separate and Community Property During Marriage: Who Owns What?”
[2] “Maryland Marital Property FAQs,” DivorceNet.
[3] “Managing Marital Property – Do’s and Don’ts,” FindLaw.

The Emotional Ride of Infidelity

infidelityIn today’s society, couples get married for a number of different reasons. Some of these motivators include finances, companionship, to have children and of course, for love. Although any of these might provide the initial incentive to walk down the aisle, it doesn’t always guarantee a happy ending. A study done by the Associated Press, “Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,” indicates that 41% of all men and women will cheat on their spouse. [2]

If you are dealing with infidelity then your most pressing question is, “How can I understand my feelings and move towards a solution?” In order to heal from the pain you are feeling, you must first understand this pain is much like grieving from the loss of a loved one and you will encounter many emotional stages in the process.

The Stages of Dealing with Infidelity

Let’s take a look at the different stages you may go through and how to move forward:

Stop. This is probably the most important step. At this point you probably just found out about the deception. You may be in denial and it’s hard to believe this has even happened. You may have moved on to anger and are feeling resentful towards your spouse. Let yourself be angry, cry and scream even. It’s okay to feel this. However, it’s important not to make any irrational decisions and give yourself enough time to process it. [1]

Reflect. Now that you have probably calmed down, you are most likely feeling confused and desperate for an answer. You may start asking yourself what has brought your spouse to this point.  You may start looking to yourself to see if you have neglected a fundamental need of your spouse. It is very easy to get depressed and blame yourself. However, do not blame yourself or stay in a prolonged depression. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and you should believe that it is not your fault and that you will get through this. Do what you need to do to get over feeling depressed. That can involve talking to family and friends, seeing a therapist/psychologist, getting back in touch with your church or temple, and its members, and/or medication based on the recommendations of your psychologist.

Accept. This has happened and there’s no way to pretend it hasn’t. Understand that this will be a journey, a process, and there is no easy fix. Analyze your feelings and prepare to take action towards a solution.

Ask. By this point you will have tons of unanswered legal questions. Our Law Offices at Sandra Guzman-Salvado can provide answers and options in order to move forward. Understand that your spouse may not agree that he/she has done something wrong or even understand how you may be feeling. However, if you and your spouse are willing to talk, you can talk about how you will move forward separately.

You should discuss what will happen with the children, home, cars, accounts, support for the child or children, support for yourself, property, and anything of value. If you are able to reach agreements about these things, we can draft a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. This will save a lot of time and money for both of you, and it will make it easier to move on.

If you hire our firm to draft the separation agreement, your spouse will receive a copy of the agreement and he or she can take that to any other attorney to review before signing. Your spouse can simply sign it before a notary with you, after you, or before you. This document, fully executed, will be filed with the court once the divorce is commenced. You should expect the legal process to be much less time consuming and expensive if you go this route.

If the communication between you and your spouse is not possible, you may consider simply filing for divorce, custody, and support. In Maryland, you do not have to be living separate and apart to file for divorce if you have sufficient evidence that adultery occurred. Although the case may start out contested, it is possible that the case will settle once your spouse has the chance to discuss the issues with an attorney, been advised, or when opportunities to settle the case present themselves. Generally, once a litigant realizes how much time and money is involved to litigate a highly contested case, he or she realizes that it is not worth prolonging a resolution.

If you decide you would like to pursue a divorce, based on adultery, proof of adultery may include but is not limited to:

  • Pictures and videos of your spouse with the other person being affectionate with each other, or coming out of a hotel together
  • Emails where they reference their last or upcoming encounter
  • Witnesses that have seen them together
  • Admissions from your spouse via text or voicemail message
  • Receipts for purchases to another person
  • Proof of travel to a destination where the lover resides

Move On. Even though your world may have turned upside down by this point, it doesn’t mean your future can’t be great. Going through trials can be painful, but you can always learn from pain. If you have decided to proceed with litigation, you should know that there is still a future ahead of you and adventures await you even if it does not feel like you will ever recover.



[1] About Relationships, “How to Cope When You’ve Learned Your Spouse Is Unfaithful.” (March 10, 2016).

[2] Statistic Brain, “Infidelity Statistics.”

[3] Psych Central, “The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief.”  (October 6, 2015).

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