Debt an important consideration in Maryland property division

There's little doubt that divorce can be trying. Among the important issues that Maryland spouses need to carefully consider how their finances will be affected going forward. These days, many couples find they have more debt to divide than assets when it is time to sign divorce papers. Property division in those circumstances is just as important as when the reverse applies -- perhaps even more. Divorcing spouses should make sure that they are getting only their fair share of debt, rather than being shouldered with an unfair portion of the joint financial burden.

Some people seem to jump into marriage without thinking too much about the financial side of things. Newlyweds often have that "love triumphs over all" outlook as they head into marriage. Just as many people seem to gloss over their economic future at the end of the marriage. That can be a tremendous mistake.

Maryland isn't a community property state where assets and debts are automatically divided equally between a divorcing couple. The standard in Maryland is equitable division. That creates the opportunity for couples to come to terms they decide are fair. Divorce courts often approve an arrangement where both parties agree and seem to have a solid understanding of the ramifications.

For some couples who have a significant amount of debt and not nearly enough assets to cover their obligations, it may be appropriate to consider bankruptcy to obtain debt relief. This could be done before pursuing the divorce, or each individual could file for bankruptcy separately after divorcing. Those are decisions best considered in consultation with a legal professional.

Ultimately, armed with the right knowledge, a couple can work through the property division stage of divorce to make sure that the financial rights of both spouses are as protected as possible going forward.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle, "Debt often focus of divorce proceedings," Kyle Martin, Sept. 23, 2012