In the event of a divorce or annulment occurring, the Court will make determinations as to how marital and non-marital property will be disposed of under Maryland’s Marital Property Act. However, before making these decisions the Court must determine whether or not an interest is even “property,” because if it is not considered as such, it can not be marital property subject to the Court’s disposition. As the goal of the Marital Property Act is to provide an equitable division of property acquired during the marriage, it is important that all determinations of property are correctly made.
The Supreme Court of Maryland broadly defines property as “everything which has exchangeable value or goes to make up a person’s wealth – every interest of estate which the law regards of sufficient value for judicial recognition.” In other words, an interest is property if it can be sold, transferred, exchanged, redeemed, inherited or liquidated in any way. This definition encompasses obvious examples such as real estate, cash, securities and furniture. However, it also includes less common interests such as goodwill of a business, dissipated property, and even personal injury claims.
While the definition of property is broad, there are still items and interests that will not be classified as property. An interest that is personal to the holder and has no assignable value on the open market nor any redeemable value is not property. Case law has – and continues to – helped to determine the fine-line between property and not property. Country club memberships with non-refundable fees are not property, while a membership with refundable fees may still be property. Professional licenses and accrued holiday/vacation time are personal to the holder and not considered property. Social Security benefits, as a government benefit, are not categorized as property as well. Professional reputation, which is distinct from goodwill of a business, is not deemed property because it is personal to an individual and not a transferrable asset.
It is extremely important that you have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney in your corner as you go through the divorce process. Robert Greenberg, Esq. and the Greenberg Legal Group can guide you through this process and find the best outcome for your specific circumstances. Our firm is located in Annapolis, Maryland and practices in Courts throughout the State of Maryland. Please contact our office at (410) 650-4242 for further assistance.