One of the most difficult issues to understand in a divorce action is the concept of marital property. Lawyers spend entire seminars, read full treatises, and examine statutes for hours on end to try and understand the nuances of this concept. So it is not surprising that most non-lawyers struggle with the same problem. Most people seem to think that each gets half of all the “stuff”. It’s not that simple.
Maryland defines “marital property” as any property acquired by either one or both parties during the marriage regardless of how it is titled. FL §8-201. In DC, the definition is not quite as specific but the statute does require the court to determine which property was acquired during the marriage regardless of whether it is titled individually or jointly. §16-910. So this means in either jurisdiction, if the Husband purchased a new car while the couple was married and titled it solely in his name, took out a loan with only his name on it to finance the purchase or purchased the car outright, it is still marital property since it was acquired during the marriage and has to be considered when distributing property upon the dissolution of the marriage. Where people get into even more difficulty is when they acquire property after they separate but before they get a divorce. Under those circumstances, it is still considered marital property (not so in Virginia).
This is but one of the many considerations that have to be taken into account when determining the distribution of marital property during a divorce action.