• Marie-Yves Nadine Jean-Baptiste

Inheritance/Gifts and Marital Property in Maryland

Updated: Aug 29, 2021

An inheritance is defined as a gift of money or property received from another person living or deceased. Under the Family Law Article of the State of Maryland, an inheritance/gift is not considered marital property during a divorce. However, as with anything under the law, there are exceptions.

Marital property is property, however titled, that is acquired by one or both spouses during the marriage. Property is any tangible or intangible item of value. Property can be land, a residence, cash, stocks, retirement accounts, business assets, motor vehicles, etc.

However titled refers to whose name is on the property and how the property is titled. When property is acquired by one or both parties, the law disregards how the property is titled for divorce purposes. Instead, the focus becomes when and how the property was acquired. The property at issue must have been acquired or must have increased in value to be considered marital or part-marital for divorce purposes.

This brings up to the topic at hand, how can property that you inherit or receive as a gift become marital if it is non-marital in nature? Simple answer: by using it in the marriage in a way that benefits the marriage and the parties alike.

To illustrate, let’s look at the case of Rogers v. Rogers decided in 1989 by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. This case involved a gift of money of $10,000 that was made to Mrs. Roger by her mother. This money was used to make the down payment on the purchase of a home. The parties lived in the home for over 10 years before they split with both parties equally contributing to the payment of the mortgage and upkeep of the home.

The Court reasoned that if the $10,000 used as a down payment was a gift to both spouses and it was used towards the purchase of the home, then the property is 100% marital. However, if the gift was meant for one spouse alone, then the home is part-marital and partly non-marital and the spouse’s contribution of the down payment does not change the classification of the home from partly non-marital to 100% marital.

As a result, after tracing the source of the property and calculating the portion contributed, the spouse who contributed the non-marital portion of the down payment will receive a proportion and fair return on their investment based on their non-marital portion. The marital contribution by both spouses will also be divided proportionately in the same manner. Of course, under the circumstances, the spouse who contributed the non-marital property will get a bigger piece of the whole pie.

If you have additional questions about how the marital property laws affect you, please contact us at 443-707-8692 or Info@saintyveslaw.com.

Source: Md.Fam.Law Code Ann., Title 8, subtitle 2 and Rogers v. Rogers, 80 Md. APp. 575 (1989)

#divorce #Marital #MaritalProperty #Taxation #FamilyLaw #Inheritance #maryland


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