Division of property in a Massachusetts divorce can be a complicated process, as the state follows an “equitable distribution” system rather than a “community property” system. This means that property is not automatically divided equally between the spouses, but rather in a way that the court deems fair and just.
When determining how to divide property, the court will consider a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the income and earning potential of each party, and any contributions made by either party to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of the property.
One important aspect of the division of property in Massachusetts is the distinction between marital property and separate property. Marital property is any property acquired during the marriage, while separate property is property that was owned by one spouse prior to the marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage.
Marital property is subject to division in a divorce, while separate property is not. However, it should be noted that any increase in value of separate property during the marriage may be considered marital property and subject to division. Additionally, any income or property acquired during the marriage through the use of separate property is considered marital property.
When dividing property, the court will first identify all of the assets and debts that are part of the marital estate. This includes items such as the family home, cars, bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts. The court will then assign a value to each item and determine how it should be divided.
In many cases, the parties are able to come to an agreement on their own as to how to divide the property. If they are unable to reach an agreement, the court will make a determination based on the factors listed above.
The court may also consider the needs of any children involved in the divorce when dividing property. For example, the court may award the family home to the parent with primary custody of the children, or may award a larger share of the property to the parent who will be responsible for providing the primary residence for the children.
It is important to note that Massachusetts is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the court does not consider fault or blame when determining how to divide property. This means that even if one spouse is deemed to have caused the breakdown of the marriage, that will not affect the division of property.
In a Massachusetts divorce, it is important to have a clear understanding of the state’s laws regarding division of property and to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. With the help of legal counsel and understanding the laws, you can navigate this process and achieve a fair and just division of property.
It is also important to note that the court has the power to order the sale of the property and divide the proceeds, or to order one of the parties to buy out the other’s interest in the property. The court may also order that one party pay the other a sum of money in lieu of awarding a specific asset.
The division of property in a Massachusetts divorce can be a complex process, but with the help of an experienced attorney and understanding of the state’s laws, parties can ensure that their rights and interests are protected and that the division of property is fair and just.