Massachusetts divides marital property according to equitable distribution, which focuses on separating property in a fair manner.
One of the most difficult topics to discuss in a divorce case is property division. Many people acquire a sizable amount of property and assets during a marriage, and it can be difficult to separate those items in a way that makes everyone happy. This is especially true if spouses develop a sentimental attachment to certain items. Massachusetts couples who are going through a divorce have the option to customize a settlement and negotiate the details of their own marital property division. Some people need the assistance of the court to help them determine who gets what in a divorce case.
Equitable division of property
In some community property states, marital property is evenly divided in two and given equally to each spouse, regardless of the circumstances of the case. Massachusetts, on the other hand, follows the equitable distribution of property model, which separates marital property fairly rather than evenly. According to the Huffington Post, equitable distribution involves the careful consideration of certain factors involved in the case. The judge appointed to oversee the divorce also has discretion when making his or her decision on how to separate the marital property and assets.
According to the Massachusetts legislature, these factors include:
- The conduct of each spouse during the marriage
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and health of each spouse
- Each spouses' current occupation, income level, education and employment opportunities
- Whether any alimony has been awarded
- The liabilities of each spouse
In addition to these factors, the judge may look at whether one spouse has contributed to the education or career advancement of the other spouse. For example, a spouse who withdrew from school to be a stay-at-home parent while the other continued their education may be given consideration.
To divide or not to divide
According to Forbes, not all of the property involved in a divorce case may be eligible for distribution. Separate property may be retained by the original owner, even after the divorce is finalized. Separate property consists of any items or assets that a spouse owned prior to the marriage or acquired after a legal separation. Inheritance and gifts that were given to a person before, during or after the marriage are also considered separate.
Marital property involves a much broader array of items and assets, some of which people may not think of as being marital. Any money or interest accrued in a 401k plan, stocks or other type of investment may be eligible for distribution. Furthermore, homes, cars, Social Security benefits, pensions, life insurance policies, workers' compensation benefits, jewelry and art collections are also marital.
When to partner with a lawyer
It can be difficult to navigate your way through a divorce, especially when your emotions are running high. You need to make those crucial decisions that will have an impact on your financial future and psychological wellbeing. A Massachusetts attorney with a thorough knowledge of state and federal laws may be able to provide essential legal counsel to you during this transformation of life.