What do courts do to fairly distribute marital property?

By Vince Wills and Christina DeVault
April 24, 2018
What do courts do to fairly distribute marital property?

All marital property is considered when dividing property during divorce; any business, professional practice, real estate, and retirement account.

If one spouse has more marital property titled in his or her name then the other spouse, the court can grant the spouse with less marital property a monetary award. For example let's say that the only item of marital property in the parting zone is a boat, which is titled in the husband's name and has been valued at $30,000. Since the court cannot transfer the boat from the husband to the wife, to balance the inequity where the husband has $30,000 and the wife has zero, the court could grant the wife a monetary award that was fair; it could be $15,000, it could be $10,000 or it could even be $20,000. The award doesn’t have to be equal as long as it's fair.

There are 11 statutory factors that the court considers when making a monetary award. They include the length of the marriage, the monetary and non-monetary contributions of each spouse to the marriage, the reason for the breakup of the marriage, the value of all property owned by each party including nonmarital property, how marital property was acquired, and any other factor that the court thinks is fair.


Vince Wills and Christina DeVault are divorce attorneys from Dragga, Hannon & Wills in Rockville, Maryland. A Fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Vince has co-authored numerous published articles on family law topics. Super Lawyers has named him as a top attorney for Maryland and the Washington Metropolitan area. Christina’s practice includes representing clients at all stages of family law, helping her clients make important decisions with confidence. To learn more about Vince and Christina, visit DraggaLaw.com.

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April 24, 2018
Categories:  FAQs

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