MOORE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.
Appellant Emma P. Ward again appeals to this Court, following our remand to the Circuit Court for Prince George's County in Ward v. Ward, 48 Md.App. 307, 426 A.2d 443 (1981) (Ward I). This time she complains that the chancellor "effectively ignored" our mandate by granting a monetary award which far exceeds the value of all marital property. Also, appellant asserts, neither the findings of fact nor the evidence justified a $50,000 award to the husband, or a deviation from the presumption of equal division of the parties' former matrimonial residence. We shall vacate the judgment and remand.
The pertinent facts may be briefly stated. Appellant and appellee Ronald Harold Ward were married in 1956. They had no children. The couple first separated in 1976 and, except for brief periods of reconciliation, remained apart until their divorce in 1980. After a trial in March of that year, the chancellor denied appellant's amended bill for divorce a vinculo matrimonii, granted appellee's cross-bill on the ground of adultery, and disposed of certain marital property, including two vacation lots in New Jersey.
On appeal (Ward I), the wife argued that the chancellor had misconstrued and misapplied the property disposition statute. We agreed, holding that the $10,000 award was not authorized by either § 3-6A-04 or § 3-6A-05. Id. at 311. We
Upon remand, no new testimony was taken, by mutual agreement. Both parties submitted proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and forms of decrees based upon the evidence adduced at trial in March 1980. Except for the proposed decree, these documents were essentially identical. The chancellor adopted appellee's decree which contained typed-in awards of $50,000 to the husband and $10,000 to the wife "in adjustment of [their] equities in the marital property."
The applicable statute, Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code Ann. § 3-6A-05 (1980 Repl. Vol.), which empowers a court to distribute assets acquired during marriage through a monetary award, Pitsenberger v. Pitsenberger, 287 Md. 20, 25, 410 A.2d 1052 (1980), appeal dismissed, 449 U.S. 807 (1980), is reproduced in Ward I, 48 Md. App. at 309-11. The statute permits a court to make an award of money "in accordance with the announced policy of the legislature which is to give
Section 3-6A-05 envisions a three-step process. Harper v. Harper, 294 Md. 54, 448 A.2d 916, 928-29 (1982) 294 Md. at 79: 1) if an equitable adjustment over and above the distribution of the spouse's property in accordance with its title is an issue, the court shall determine which property is marital property; 2) the court shall then determine the value of all marital property; 3) finally, the court may make a monetary award as an adjustment of the parties' "equities and rights" concerning marital property, whether or not alimony is awarded. If an award is deemed appropriate, the court shall then consider each of the nine factors enumerated in § 3-6A-05 (b) in determining a fair and equitable amount and the method of its payment.
The monetary award is thus an addition to and not a substitution for a legal division of the property accumulated during marriage, according to title. It is "intended to compensate a spouse who holds title to less than an equitable portion" of that property. Note, Property Disposition Upon Divorce in Maryland: An Analysis of the New Statute, 8 U. Balt. L. Rev. 377, 386 (1979). As the Note suggests, the monetary award is similar to alimony in gross, a lump sum award for the present value of a wife's inchoate marital rights. Id. at 393. It is important to realize that the monetary award is purely discretionary.
Tracking the language of § 3-6A-05 (a), we know that division of the property in this case was an issue because the wife charged in her bill of complaint that the husband appropriated to his own use property in which she had an interest.
Based on these findings of fact the court concluded as a matter of law that:
The obvious flaw here is that the chancellor has made two awards, each purporting to adjust the individual equities in the marital property. The statute calls for a monetary award as an adjustment of the parties' rights and equities. The use of the singular "award" is clear and deliberate — the General Assembly intended that one award would balance the equities between the parties after each of the nine factors had been weighed.
In this case, the inescapable conclusion flowing from a consideration of the nine factors is that the balance was
Based on these findings of fact, the chancellor's ruling violates the most basic principles governing monetary awards. Since the function of a monetary award is to adjust the parties' equities in the marital property,
Where a monetary award is made, the parties' property interests are not affected. Here, the parties owned this marital property as tenants by the entireties. Their divorce made them tenants in common. As such, each has an undivided one-half interest in a property whose net value is $32,000. Where the parties are tenants in common of their former marital residence, and it is the only marital property at issue, an equal and equitable division may be accomplished without any court intervention. As tenants in common, either of the parties may petition for a sale of the home to recover his or her individual interest.
Upon remand, the chancellor should reconsider the evidence or take new testimony to determine, first, if an award need be made at all, and if so, to set a single amount that would fairly adjust the parties' equities in the marital property after considering the nine factors.
Decree vacated insofar as it provides for monetary awards of $50,000 to the husband and $10,000 to the wife; otherwise, decree affirmed; case remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion; costs to be paid by appellee.
"The Court concludes as a matter of law that Ronald H. Ward is entitled to a divorce a vinculo matrimonii from Emma P. Ward, and that
(Emma P. Ward is entitled to a monetary award in the sum of $____).
(Ronald H. Ward is entitled to a monetary award in the sum of $____).
(Neither party is entitled to a monetary award).
Therefore, it is by the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland, this ____ day of ____, 1981,
ORDERED, that the defendant Ronald H. Ward, be and he is hereby divorced A Vinculo Matrimonii from Emma P. Ward, and it is further,
(ORDERED, that a monetary award in the sum of $____ is granted to ______________________________,) and it is further,
ORDERED, that the costs of these proceedings be divided equally between the parties.
The language of the nine factors clearly points to a bottom-line approach to equitable resolution of the parties' interests in the specified marital property. The factors include each party's contributions and efforts to acquire the property, the value of all property interests, circumstances of estrangement, duration of the marriage, other awards such as alimony, and a catchall of any other factors "necessary and appropriate."