Crawford Credits Maryland Divorce
In Baran v. Jaskulski, 114 Md. App. 322, 328-32, 689 A.2d 1283 (1997), the Court explained the origin and meaning of the term "Crawford credits," and presented the following definition, id. at 332:
"Crawford Credits--the general law of contribution between co-tenants of jointly owned property applies when married parties, owning property jointly, separate. A married, but separated, co-tenant is, in the absence of an ouster (or its equivalent) of the nonpaying spouse, entitled to contribution for those expenses the paying spouse has paid."
The Court of Appeals considered the concept of contribution in divorce cases in the case of Crawford v. Crawford, 293 Md. 307, 443 A.2d 599 (1982), from which the term "Crawford credits" is derived. There, the Court expounded on the "general law of contribution that applies to co-tenants. . . ." Id. at 309.
It said: "Generally, one co-tenant who pays the mortgage, taxes, and other carrying charges of jointly owned property is entitled to contribution from the other." Id.
The Court explained that the doctrine of contribution is equally applicable to a tenancy by the entireties (a form of co-tenancy available only to married couples) as to other forms of co-tenancy (tenancy in common and joint tenancy). Id. at 310-11.
The Court noted, however, that "when the co-tenants are married to each other. . .a presumption of gift usually arises as to any payment made to purchase the property," id. at 311, thus defeating the payor spouse's entitlement to contribution. See id. at 311-14.
The Crawford Court's paramount determination was that, although "the presumption of gift doctrine is alive in Maryland when, at the time of the transaction(s) in question, the parties are living together as husband and wife," id. at 314, the presumption does not apply when spouses have separated. In that situation, "the reason for the presumption is not present and it does not arise...." Id.