Understanding property division in Massachusetts

| Apr 7, 2021 | Divorce

Massachusetts uses the equitable division standard to allocate property and debt when couples who live in the state divorce. Under this standard, you and your spouse must fairly, but not necessarily equally, split shared assets and financial obligations.

Review the factors in property division before reaching an agreement in your Massachusetts divorce.

Identifying marital property

The equitable division standard applies only to marital property. Separate assets and debts remain with their owner. You can establish separate property in a prenuptial agreement. If you accrued assets or debts before the marriage or received an inheritance or gift in your name only, these items also constitute separate property.

Valuing marital assets

If you and your spouse own real estate, collections, automobiles, antiques, investments and other high-value items, you may want to seek a professional appraisal as you negotiate your divorce agreement. Knowing the fair market value of assets will inform fair division. If neither of you wants to keep certain assets, you can sell those items and split the profit.

Coming to an agreement

You and your spouse can decide how to divide property outside of court. If you cannot agree, you can ask the judge to decide during your divorce proceedings. In this case, the judge may consider:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Why the marriage ended
  • Each person’s separate assets and debts
  • Each person’s financial needs
  • The couple’s total estate
  • Each person’s projected income
  • Each person’s employment status
  • Each person’s age

The judge can also consider whether either party committed financial irresponsibility. He or she can adjust the property division arrangement accordingly.