How are assets, property and debt divided in divorce?

When two individuals decide to get married, they vow to share their lives with one another. Barring a prenuptial agreement detailing otherwise, sharing also applies to one's assets and debts. Additionally, any assets or property acquired during the course of a marriage are typically regarded as marital property in which each spouse shares a vested interest and equitable share.

In cases where a couple subsequently decides to divorce, matters related to the ownership of assets, property and debt must be decided upon. Like the majority of states, Maryland is considered an equitable distribution state. This means that a judge takes several factors into consideration when dividing property, assets and debts and he or she strives to make related decisions based upon what is fair.

Marital property that must be accounted for and divvied up includes assets held in bank and savings accounts, retirement account assets, investment and brokerage accounts, cars, a marital home and any other jointly-owned assets and property. Additionally, debts accrued through joint credit card purchases, a home mortgage, a car loan and even student loans must be assigned.

Some factors that a judge will likely take into account when dividing marital property and debt include the length of a marriage, the income of each spouse, factors related to how assets or debts were incurred and any existing child custody agreement. When negotiating terms related to the division of marital property and debt, it's best when a divorcing couple is able to rectify and agree upon many of the related terms. In cases where spouses are not able to come to a consensus, a judge will weigh in and make decisions according to what he or she deems to be fair.

When going through the divorce process, an individual is likely to experience times of frustration and confusion. It's important, therefore to have a legal advocate who can provide advice and guidance.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Property Division FAQ," 2015

FindLaw.com, "The FindLaw Guide to Divorce and Property Division," 2015