Yes, generally speaking, any gifts exchanged by a couple during their marriage are considered “marital property.” So, for example, if one spouse gives jewelry or some other luxury to another, then those items are “counted” as marital assets when the couple seeks and obtains a Maryland divorce.
Why does this matter? Like every other State in the United States, Maryland divorce law requires an equitable division of the couple’s marital property and assets upon divorce. Generally, that means an even split of assets (and debts), but the Maryland divorce court can make adjustments to create an “equitable” division. This rule applies to pretty much any type of gift including wedding rings, vehicles, boats, real property (like a vacation home), clothing, furnishings, etc. As one can imagine, in a Maryland contested divorce, treating gifts as marital assets can become quite contentious. Thus, it is important to seek the legal advice and services of experienced Maryland divorce attorneys like those at the Law Offices of Thomas Stahl.
Are there exceptions?
Yes, depending on the facts of your marriage and divorce, there may be exceptions. One exception probably covers gifts exchanged or given PRIOR to the actual marriage. This can become complicated if there is commingling of assets after the marriage. However, the general rule is that property and assets owned prior to the marriage are the assets and property of the spouse who owned that property. Take, for example, an automobile given by one person to another before marriage. That is considered the property of the person who received it. However, if the automobile was subsequently used by both spouses after they got married, then a Maryland divorce court could deem that automobile to have become marital property over time.
Another exception involves post-marriage, pre-divorce agreements between the spouses. Let’s say one spouse gifts a vacation home to the other. The couple could agree that the vacation home would not be treated as “marital property” in the event of a divorce. However, such agreements must be crafted very carefully to ensure validity and enforceability under the divorce laws of Maryland. You will definitely need the help of dedicated Maryland divorce lawyers to draft such an agreement.
What about gifts from family, friends and third-parties?
In general, if a gift comes from family or third parties – like a friend – then it depends on if the gift was given SOLELY to one spouse or whether it was given to them both. Thus, for example, gifts given at the wedding are almost always deemed martial property because those gifts were given to the COUPLE. However, if a gift is made by, say, a maternal grandmother to one spouse specifically and directly, then that gift would be “non-marital” for purposes of a divorce.
Maryland and DC Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
For more information, contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and DC divorce, family law and estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. We have the experience and expertise you need. We also have proven experience with divorce and family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. If you have been searching for experienced Maryland divorce lawyers near me, call us.