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MARYLAND DIVORCE ATTORNEY EXPLAINS DIVIDING MARITAL PROPERTY

MARYLAND DIVORCE ATTORNEY

Maryland Divorce Attorney

MARITAL AND NON-MARITAL PROPERTY

Divorce is never an easy event to go through as there are a lot of emotional and financial difficulties to figure out. When a couple gets divorced, all the property acquired during the marriage (furniture, cars, appliances, stocks, bank accounts, pensions etc) regardless of who purchased it, must be divided. Having an experienced Maryland divorce attorney on you side is important to protect your legal rights.

The only exception would be non-marital property – property that was received by one spouse as a gift or inheritance from a third party. Non-marital property could be obtained before or during the marriage. Another important thing to note is that neither spouse is liable for contracts made by the other spouse in his or her name or for the debts the other spouse may have acquired prior to the marriage.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your property, the court will decide what is marital property and how much it is worth. The court will also determine each spouse’s share of the property. A variety of factors go into effect in this decision such as:

  • the contributions, both monetary and non-monetary, of each party to the well-being of the family
  • the value of all of the property interests of each spouse
  • the economic circumstances of each spouse
  • the circumstances and facts which contributed to the estrangement of the parties
  • the duration of the marriage
  • the age and physical and mental condition of the parties
  • how and when specific marital property was acquired
  • any award or other provision which the court has made with respect to family use
  • the contribution of either party to the acquisition of the property
  • and other factors the court thinks is necessary in order to make the decision

If you and your spouse are thinking about getting a divorce, make sure to contact a Maryland divorce attorney who can help guide you through the process in this difficult and emotional time.

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DIVORCE & COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID

Divorce or separation can make many things in life complicated, even many years later. If you have children preparing to go to college, it’s important to understand how divorce may affect your child’s college financial aid. The parent with whom the child resides primarily should be the one to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The non-custodial parent’s income is irrelevant for financial aid purposes and if the child lives with both parents equally, then the parent that has spent the most money on the child’s care would be the one to fill out the FAFSA. It doesn’t matter who claims the child as a tax exemption or who pays child support. The only time child support might become a factor is if the child spends equal time with both parents and the amount of child support paid is more than the other parent spends on the child’s care.

REMARRIAGE CAN AFFECT FINANCIAL AID AND ELIGIBILITY

Keep in mind remarriage can affect financial aid and eligibility. If the custodial parent remarries, the new spouse’s income and assets must be listed on FAFSA, which could potentially jeopardize a child’s eligibility. Even though you use the custodial parent’s information on the application, parents should also be aware that colleges and universities may request information from the non-custodial parent to determine eligibility for institutionally-funded forms of financial aid.

If a college requires information from the non-custodial parent, this process will be explained in the application procedures. If you are divorced and your child is going to college and applying for FAFSA, contact an experienced attorney who can answer any questions you may have.

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SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS IN DIVORCE

Americans can receive social security benefits based on their own work and earnings or from their spouses. The division of assets in divorce often include pensions, 401(K)’s, IRA’s and other retirement assets. The assets divided do not include a spouse’s claim to or expectancy of receiving social security benefits as these are government benefits and not property.

DIVORCE AFTER TEN YEARS OR MORE OF MARRIAGE

If you divorce after ten years or more of marriage, either spouse can claim benefits based on the earnings of the other. These spousal benefits are generally half of the employee’s benefits. In order for you to qualify, your former spouse must be at least 62 years of age. If your former spouse has not applied for retirement benefits but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on his or her record if you have been divorced for at least two years. If you remarry, you cannot collect benefits on your former spouse’s earnings record unless your later marriage ends, either by death, divorce or annulment.

FEDERAL RETIREMENT PLANS

Federal retirement plans and many state government plans are not intended to supplement social security and are intended to just provide retirement income. If one spouse works for a private company and has a pension and will be eligible for social security and the other is a government employee, the Court will divide the marital portion of the private pension but not the government pension. Maryland does not take into account the difference in expected government benefits when dividing pension.

CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY FOR HELP

If you are going through a divorce, it is important to have all of the financial facts by requesting your social security statement and understanding what can and cannot be divided. Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable Maryland divorce attorney who will give you the answers to all your questions, and will be on your side is critically important.

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DIVIDING RETIREMENT ASSETS

Divorce is an emotionally difficult time for many people. Financial worries and burdens are a big concern and retirement assets and pensions are a marital property issue in a Maryland divorce. Maryland is an “equitable” property state, not a “community” property state which holds that the spouse gets half of the property on some automatic basis. “Equitable property” is not automatic and is distributed more fairly.

If you’re going through a divorce, make sure to contact an experienced attorney who knows exactly how the process works as there are many factors that play in. Retirement accounts, retirement plans and retirement assets all have different characteristics when being involved in a divorce but generally speaking any pension, retirement, profit sharing or deferred compensation plan or account acquired during marriage is marital property that would need to be divided. Any pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan or account acquired before marriage, by inheritance or gift from a third party is nonmarital property and therefore would not need to be divided.

EVALUATING PENSIONS AND RETIREMENT PLANS

A Maryland court has broad discretion in evaluating pensions and retirement plans. They can be valued as:

  1. equal to an employee’s contributions to the pension,
  2. as the “present value” of future benefits expected to be received by the employee after retirement or
  3. through determination of a percentage to be paid to the nonemployee spouse.

Furthermore, the court may transfer ownership of an interest in a pension, retirement, profit sharing or deferred compensation plan from one party to either or both parties as an adjustment of the equities and rights of the parties concerning marital property, whether or not alimony is awarded. Divorce is a very complex process and there are many factors involved so make sure to contact an experienced Maryland divorce attorney who can help you through the process.

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WHAT IS AN ANNULMENT

An annulment is a legal declaration that a marriage never existed, that it was null and void from the beginning, that something at the start prevented the marriage from being valid. The difference between a divorce and an annulment is this: In a divorce a valid marriage is legally ended, while an annulment means that the “marriage” never existed in the first place.

At one time, courts could not make an award of alimony if annulment was granted. Today many states permit the courts to award alimony and divide the property much the same as if a divorce were involved. A person has never been allowed to use an annulment to avoid his or her responsibilities toward a child born of the “marriage.”

GROUNDS FOR AN ANNULMENT

Four things that are grounds for an annulment in most states: an underage party; bigamy; and lack of mental competency. Sexual impotency or physical inability to have sexual intercourse is reason for an annulment in most states, at least where the other person was not aware of it before marriage. Some states permit an annulment if one of the parties is a drug addict, a habitual criminal, or a prostitute. An annulment is available in some states if the women was pregnant with another man’s child at the time of the marriage. Failure to comply with all the formalities of marriage or remarrying before a previous divorce becomes final is also grounds for annulment.

FRAUD IS SOMETIMES A SUFFICIENT GROUND FOR AN ANNULMENT

Suppose a woman falsely tells her boyfriend that he has gotten her pregnant, and he marries her primarily out of feeling of duty toward the nonexistent child. A court can annul the marriage because of the woman’s deception. An example of deception that isn’t enough to annul a marriage: A man tells a woman that he is a multimillionaire, has a villa in Spain, a chateau on the French Riviera, and so on. They get married and she soon learns that he is in fact an assistant French-fry cook at a local fast food restaurant and has no money. In the eyes of the law, she married the man for the love of him, not for the love of his money, so it shouldn’t make a difference how rich or poor he is.

In some cases, coercion or duress can be the basis for a court to grant an annulment. For example, if the brides father threatens to physically harm the groom if he doesn’t marry his daughter, this is probably enough to get the marriage nullified.

CONTACT MARYLAND DIVORCE ATTORNEY FOR HELP

Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable Maryland divorce attorney who will give you the answers to all your questions, and will be on your side is critically important. Our attorneys will spend the necessary time to design a plan that will achieve your goals, and explain the consequences of each strategic move. Active and aggressive representation is critical in this field.

THE OUTCOME OF YOUR CASE MATTERS TO US

Contact our office as soon as possible so our team of divorce attorneys can properly evaluate your case and protect your rights.

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