Everyone knows that divorce is never an easy process. However, it is usually a tougher journey for marriages with a history of adultery, violence and other marital misconduct. Aside from the lengthy and costly litigation process, divorces where there is fault usually create additional issues during the proceedings. One of the concerns is whether fault can affect the division of marital assets.
A factor for equitable distribution
As a state that allows fault divorces, Maryland and its courts do consider marital misconduct when determining a fair property division. While it still depends on each case and each judge’s decision, courts typically reduce the share of the guilty spouse and award a higher percentage of the marital assets to the other spouse. This is to compensate for the victim’s spouse’s suffering due to the guilty spouse’s misconduct.
It is not the only factor
While marital fault holds weight in property division, it is merely one of the court’s considerations to determine what is fair and just. Under Maryland’s divorce law, courts can consider the following factors to guide them to an equitable division:
- The marriage’s duration
- Each spouse’s age and health condition
- Each spouse’s contribution to the family
- Each spouse’s property interests
- Each spouse’s financial circumstances
- The factors that lead to the marriage’s breakdown
- The details of each martial property’s acquisition
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marital property
- Alimony and use of property awards
The judge may also consider any other relevant factor to reach a fair and equitable division.
Navigating through options and choosing the best one
Ideally, divorcing parties would agree on the divorce terms, including property division, since this can save them time and costs. However, it is a good practice to acknowledge that this method may not work for everyone, such as those dealing with marital misconduct.
Whether you are the spouse claiming fault or the alleged guilty spouse, it is essential to know your options and build a strong case during the divorce process. It may also help to reach out to a legal professional to guide you through the process.