07 May 2012
Most divorcing couples settle the details of their divorce out of court or in proceedings known as uncontested or “no fault” divorces. But no matter how amicable or contemptuous your spouse appears to be when the process begins, during divorce proceedings it is always a good idea to do your research and take your time when dividing property and debt. By having the right information, and knowing exactly what you want from the settlement, you can manage a less distressing divorce proceeding.
The first step to obtaining a less distressing divorce proceeding is to educate yourself about the process of getting a divorce. Each state has its own laws concerning dividing marital property, and you should be certain you understand exactly what property is marital property before deciding who should get what and what you are entitled to.
Generally speaking, the majority of states, including Maryland, consider any and all property acquired during the marriage to be marital property, regardless of whose name it is titled or registered under. The only exceptions to this rule are assets that were accrued before the marriage, inherited assets, or gifts.
The family home is frequently an asset that causes the most trouble during a divorce settlement, as it is often the most valuable. In many cases, neither spouse can reasonably afford to keep up the mortgage payments or other costs of the home with just one salary. In this situation, the court will generally require that the home be sold and the remaining money is divided between the two parties.
In other cases, and with the goal of keeping a more stable environment for children, the family home is kept within joint ownership of the couple, and each spouse continues to cover a certain portion of the expenses of the home for an extended period of time. When the house is eventually sold, the profits are then divided amongst the couple.
Assigning Debt Liability
During a divorce settlement, it is not only property and assets that are divided; the debts incurred by you and your spouse must also be divided. Remember, even if a credit card is in your spouse’s name, any debt accrued during the marriage belongs to each of you equally.
A divorce settlement can be drawn up stating that one spouse is responsible for paying off one debt, while the other spouse is responsible for another. Even though the debt has been assigned to your ex-spouse, if he or she stops making payments, your credit score may potentially still be affected. To ensure that the debts are taken care of, it is wise to have a duplicate statement sent to your address, or request immediate notification if any payments are missed or late. Proper debt management and maintenance is a major motivator to ensuring that divorce proceedings to not become overly contentious.
Remember, when dividing the property and the debt, you need to protect your future, and the future of your children. Even though you and your spouse are no longer a married couple, you will need to be able to communicate these issues and form a reasonable plan that will be fair and beneficial to each party. This is when research takes a back seat to the guidance of an experienced and qualified divorce attorney , who can relieve much of the stress of attempting to understand the laws as applied in Maryland, while simultaneously attempting to reach an agreement with your estranged spouse.