All the property spouses acquire from the start of the marriage until the divorce settlement is marital property. In Maryland, the law takes a step further to define “family use personal property.” From the name itself, family use personal property comprises everything the family uses; therefore, ownership of these directly impacts the family unit in a divorce.
According to Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-201, family personal use property includes the family home, cars, trucks and motor vehicles, furniture, household appliances and electronics, all of which the family uses every day.
Who gets the family use personal property in a divorce?
If the spouses cannot agree on who will acquire these, the court shall decide for them during the divorce proceedings. It is especially significant when children are involved as they are the reason a couple lawfully becomes a family. The court considers the following before they can determine who to award these to:
- The children’s interests: As much as possible, the lifestyle of the minor children must not change. The custodial parent will have an advantage as the court always considers the children’s best interests.
- The respective interests of each spouse: Either spouse may need to continue using the family home because they may have no other place to live. They may also temporarily acquire and use a portion of the family home for residential purposes.
- A spouse needs the property for income production: A spouse may lose their job or cannot produce income without one or more of the family use personal properties. The court also considers how losing the property affects each spouse’s income.
- The hardship either spouse will suffer: If either spouse will endure any unreasonable hardship because of losing this property, this may infringe any order the court makes despite prior considerations.
After considering all these, the court may decide to award sole ownership to either spouse or divide the family use personal property between the spouses. A divorce will only finalize once there is an agreeable settlement for both spouses.
Try to reach an agreement with your spouse
Divorce is never easy, and the obstacles that come with property division complicate things further. The sooner you and your ex can figure out the best decision for everyone, the quicker you can get through the process. Remember to always to put the needs of the children first, but at the same time, neither parent should go hungry.