What advice would you give to divorcing couples to get their fair share?
The advice that I would give divorcing couples is that Maryland is an equitable, not equal division state. Commonly fair in Maryland is an equal division of marital property absent extraordinary facts. What we tend to see clients struggle with in terms of fairness is when premarital or nonmarital assets become commingled with marital assets, and the spouse seeking the return of their premarital or nonmarital assets is unsuccessful in their request, because the court can’t trace the money back to the premarital or nonmarital source.
This often happens when premarital or nonmarital retirement or brokerage accounts are combined with a marital retirement or brokerage account. This also happens with the purchase of real property. The advice I would give clients is keep your premarital or nonmarital retirement and brokerage accounts separate from any marital retirement or brokerage account. If it is not possible to keep premarital or nonmarital retirement or brokerage accounts separate, then the spouse should keep meticulous records of the retirement or brokerage accounts from the month before the marriage and throughout the entire marriage.
It is a bit more difficult when it comes to the purchase of real property because you cannot keep premarital and marital money separate when you purchase a home. Instead, clients should keep meticulous records of where money came from that was used to contribute to the purchase of real property.
Vince Wills and Christina DeVault are divorce attorneys from 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.