“Lawyers often joke that we went to law school because we aren’t good at or don’t like math,” quipped a Maryland Court of Special Appeals judge recently. In a similar vein, a student in a law school seminar once interrupted the instructor who was laying out a math-intensive hypothetical. “Pardon me, Professor, but… we don’t do math. If we did, we wouldn’t be here.” Similar to the Court of Special Appeals Judge’s observation, the student was implying that he and his classmates arrived at law school rather than medical school or engineering school solely as a result of their poor math skills or strong dislike of math. In seriousness, though, math and law can — and do — intersect frequently, especially in divorce cases involving the division of marital assets. When you are in a divorce case where that is a significant issue, your outcome can often be enhanced by having on your side a skilled Maryland divorce lawyer (who may or may not love math.)
The case that spawned the Court of Special Appeals’ observation about math was a recent divorce dispute about retirement assets. The judgment in that divorce action stated that the “parties shall equalize their retirement assets.” To do that, the court instructed the wife to roll over $303,388 from her retirement to the husband’s retirement.
The problem was, as the appeals court put it, “something didn’t add up,” and fortunately for the wife, her legal team spotted it and argued it in her motion to enforce the judgment. Specifically, the wife’s counsel found the presence of a typographical error and deduced that a transfer of $303,388 would not equalize the spouses’ assets. To achieve an equal split, the wife argued, the correct sum should have been $40,000 less, or $263,388.