Technically, marital property exists at the time of the divorce. Marital property includes all property acquired during the marriage, except anything acquired by gift or inheritance, or excluded by agreement.
If property was purchased by a spouse during the marriage, and the property is titled solely in the name of one spouse to the exclusion of the other, and the property was paid for by income earned during the marriage, then the property is marital. It does not necessarily matter how the property is titled as the courts will look at the financial contributions as well.
Maryland is not a community property state. Maryland is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that property is “equitably” divided at the time of divorce. The division is subject to the discretion of the court. Marital property is very often equally divided, but not always.
The court must first determine which property is marital, and then determine the value of the property. It can be difficult to determine what property is marital. Some property may be part marital, and part non-marital. For example, if a spouse own a home that is encumbered by a mortgage and the parties live in the home after the marriage and make mortgage payments, the principal of the mortgage that is paid down with marital asset (income) is marital property.
After the court determines whether property is marital, and the value of the marital property, the court will then seek to equitably divide the property. The court may transfer ownership of property or make a monetary award, or both, as an adjustment of equities and rights of the parties.