Any property that spouses obtain during their marriage becomes marital property, no matter whose name is on it. This means that a car with only one spouse's name on it is considered jointly owned and subject to property division if the spouses divorce. During a divorce, if spouses cannot come to their own agreement regarding property division, the court will make the decision for them.
Maryland is an equitable distribution state, which means a judge will attempt to fairly divide the property the couple obtained during their marriage. This is different from a community property state, in which the marital property is equally owned and equally divided in a divorce. Equitable distribution allows for more flexible property division judgments.
While marital property is subject to division during a divorce, separate property remains the property of the spouse to whom it belongs. Separate property includes assets that spouses owned prior to their marriage, as well as any gift or inheritance specifically given to one spouse at any time during the marriage.
Although some spouses are unable to agree on property division issues, leaving a court to decide for them, some couples can come to an agreement on their own or with the help of mediators or their attorneys. Courts generally approve property division settlements that both spouses agree on.
As property division and other divorce-related laws are subject to change, divorcing spouses may be better able to represent their rights with the help of attorneys. No information in this article should be construed as specific legal advice.
Source: Findlaw, "Maryland Marital Property Laws", December 02, 2014