Dennis Gordon and Patricia Gordon got married and bought a house together in Howard County, Maryland. They divorced after ten years of marriage. Patricia, had taken $30,000 out of her pre-marital 401(k) plan to help buy the house and she asked for it back.

You be the judge. What would you do? Would you give Patricia her $30,000 back? If you would, you would be in agreement with the trial judge.

The trial judge noted that he was required by law to consider “contributions of either party…to the acquisition of real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety.” Family Law Section 8-205(b)(9). Therefore, he ruled that Patricia got her $30,000 back.

But you and the trial judge would be wrong.

On May 18th of this year, the Court of Special Appeals reversed. Gordon v. Gordon, 174 Md.App. 583 (2007). The CSA said there is no tracing or source of funds rule for property that is tenancy by the entireties. The CSA sent the case back to the judge to consider all of the property factors. In a footnote, the CSA said that factors such as health, age, economic factors and length of marriage could lead to the same conclusion, but all the factors had to be considered, not just one.