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What happens when spouses disagree about property division?

One truism of modern life is that many married couples today often struggle financially to get by. Many families must pool their incomes together and operate their financial interests jointly. It's also not uncommon for married couples to use joint checking accounts and comingle their funds when purchasing major items such as homes and vehicles. These arrangements can sometimes prove rather problematic when a divorcing couple attempts to divide their property.

Maryland considers most property acquired when a married couple is together as marital property. That includes just about anything you can imagine, even things you may have thought you acquired individually like jewelry, your pension or your retirement plan.

Some couples have the foresight to prepare premarital agreements before they tie the knot. These are essentially legal documents in which you and your future spouse designate ownership of property prior to marriage. The majority of them also outline how that property is to be divided in the event of divorce. The formation of a premarital agreement generally eliminates disputes regarding the division of property.

The most common way that divorcing couples divide their property is usually through some form of agreement. This can happen in a variety of ways but perhaps the best way to avoid arguments is to involve your attorney to negotiate on your behalf. Sometimes, having an intermediary can reduce tensions and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution in situations where there may have previously been an impasse.

If all else fails and the couple still cannot agree how to divide their property, then a court will decide. Generally, a court will examine whether the property belonged to a spouse prior to the marriage. The court may also determine inherited property and gifts acquired by individual spouses as non-marital property and award those items accordingly.

It's important for you to know that you may not agree or like the court's ultimate determinations regarding the division of your marital property. That's why it may be a better strategy for you to involve an experienced Maryland family law attorney in your negotiations to settle these disputes with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. That will allow you to have more say in the matter.

Source: General Assembly of Maryland, "Article - Family Law §8–201.," accessed June 04, 2015

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