Property Division Laws in Massachusetts?
Going through a divorce can be a difficult situation. It can lead to stress and high financial costs if not handled and dealt with swiftly and delicately. There is much to consider when going through a divorce, especially when it comes to the question of who gets what. If you are filing for a divorce in Massachusetts, it is important to understand the laws in regards to division of property. The state of Massachusetts is considered an equitable distribution state. What this means is that any assets or debts that were accrued throughout your marriage or prior to your marriage will be divided between both parties in such a way that the court deems fair to both parties involved. This does not always end up being an equal distribution to both parties.
The court determines the division of property. Depending upon the length of the marriage a court will consider most debts or assets accumulated during the marriage are joint/marital property. In a very limited set of circumstances a court may consider debts or assets accumulated prior to the marriage are considered separate property. It is critical to understand what factors affect the court’s decision in this regard. Read further to find out more about how the division of property is determined in Massachusetts.
Determining the Value of Property
When filing for divorce, it is important to determine the value of all property and assets within the marriage. This can include a range of things from the house, vehicles, items in the house, small businesses etc. Typically it is best for the spouses to assign a value to their property, but the court or an expert witness can step in to assign a value when needed. Other professionals can be called in to determine value as well, such as an appraiser or other financial professionals.
The Division of Property
There are many ways the property and assets can be divided during a divorce. The parties can determine who will get what possessions and property, or the court can make that determination. Included in assets and property are also debts, which can make it difficult for the spouses to divvy things up. The court can then step in and determine the division of property based on several factors such as income, employment and skills, age, health, economic status, liabilities, needs, length of the marriage, who is caring for the children, the fault of divorce, and more. It is unlikely that if one spouse is considered at fault for the divorce, the court will side in favor in any significant way of the “innocent” spouse with respect to the allocation and division of debt and assets, but every case is unique.
In closing, if you are going through a divorce it is always best to be as civil as possible with your spouse when it comes to the dividing of property. The courts in Massachusetts do have methods and laws in place to make the best possible determination for the dividing of property, assets, and debts to the best of its ability. However, this may not have the best financial turnout for the parties involved. It is in your best interest to speak with an experienced family law attorney who deals in marital assets.