Non-marital property consists of (a) the property you owned prior to your marriage; (b) the property you acquired during your marriage by inheritance or gift from third parties (not your spouse); and (c) any property directly traceable to any of the above sources. See Md. Code Ann. Family Law § 8-201(e)(3). In a divorce action, each party gets to keep their non-marital property, provided they are able to prove that such property was directly acquired via one of the three above-listed sources. This is where the proverbial plot thickens, particularly in long-term marriages.
How many people keep records verifying their acquisition of jewelry or a baseball card collection that they purchased 20 or more years ago? How many people keep evidence confirming their receipt of funds from a deceased relative’s estate or life insurance policy? How many people maintain statements dating back to the date of marriage for their existing 401(k) plans? In my experience, most do not. And most banks only keep records dating back seven years, further complicating the proof recovery problem.