You know what they say. Get three lawyers in a room and you will get four different opinions.

Yesterday, my partners and I were discussing whether the judge uses a marital award to adjust the equities and rights of the parties in their marital property. Or whether it is to adjust the equities in all of their property, marital and non-marital as well.

After about a non-billable hour of arguing, we decided to read the manual, in this case the Code of Maryland.

Section 8-205(a) of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code authorizes the court to grant a monetary award “as an adjustment of the equities and rights of the parties concerning marital property”.

Subsection (b) of that Code provision, however, provides ten factors that the Court must consider in determining the amount of the award. Factor 2 is the value of all property interests of the parties, factor 8 is how and when marital and non-marital property was acquired, and factor 10 is any other factor the court considers necessary or appropriate.

So the right answer is that the monetary award is an adjustment of the equities in marital property, taking into consideration both non-marital and marital property, and how and when it was acquired. Got that? Don’t worry, even judges get it wrong from time to time.