Community Property in Maryland Divorces
The divorce and custody laws of each state in the United States vary, even though the issues remain the same. (Probably the same all over the world)
Therefore is is sometimes nice to be a divorce and custody lawyer because the underlying issues have been the same since Adam and Eve. Thus, if there is a dirty trick employed by the other side, there is somebody somewhere who has thought of it first.
The disposition of property is almost universally at issue in any divorce. Sometimes the property issue is a “stuff” issue such as, who gets this or that lamp, picture, china, sofa etc……… Other times is is very significant items like a house, bank accounts, retirements etc.
Maryland is an equitable property State. While marital property is defined and usually represents all property (however titled) the values, spousal entitlement to the property is equitably based. That means a person is not automatically required to pay half value to the other spouse. It can be 1%-99% (usually 50%) and the percentages and value are what the court thinks “fair” ie. “equitable.
States that use “community property” are in the minority of our United States. Community property is therefore a term that Maryland and other state courts do not even use. Yet, California is among those states that identify “community property” and so the term has permeated TV, films, grocery store magazines and reality shows. Hence, it is a common part of our cultural vocabulary.
The following are apparently community property states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington State and Wyoming. I know absolutely nothing else about property distribution in any of those states. My actual legal knowledge and license are limited to Maryland.
From what I can tell, in Community property states the ownership of marital property is deemed 50/50 and the value of its distribution is deemed to be a fifty percent (50%) to each spouse. In contrast to Maryland, it is not a percentage that can be chosen or adjusted by the courts based on fairness and circumstances or equitable factors such as those spelled out in the Maryland Family Law Code Sections 8-201-8-214. https://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/mdcode/
I can only surmise that the community property states must have some legal way to offset the draconian result of an arbitrary “half and half” in every case. My only authority for that is the dearth of celebrities setting up home base in Frederick, Maryland. Yet, having read this comparison, they may be on their way as we speak 🙂
Tim Conlon Esquire at