Division of Assets & Debt

In accordance with Massachusetts law, everything acquired during the marriage is a marital asset subject to division of assets during divorce. Furthermore, assets (either wholly or partially) brought into the marriage may be subject to division of assets too. Massachusetts, unlike traditional community property states, is an equitable division state. That means that there is a presumption of an equal (50-50) division of all marital assets, but the courts also have the authority to order an unequal division (for example, 55-45 or 60-40, etc.). This may happen once the court has reviewed the factors enumerated in Massachusetts statute, known as Massachusetts General Law, ch. 208 section 34.

The factors that effect division of assets include:

  • length of marriage
  • conduct of the parties during marriage
  • age of each party
  • health of each party
  • station of the parties during marriage
  • occupations
  • amount and sources of income of each party
  • vocational skills of each party
  • employability of each party
  • estates of each party
  • liabilities of each party
  • needs of each party
  • current needs of the minor children
  • future needs of the minor children
  • opportunities available to each party for the acquisition of capital assets
  • contributions of each party to the acquisition, preservation or appreciation of their respective estates
  • contribution of each party when one is a homemaker

If a spouse is an owner of a business or is self-employed, that portion of the business attributable to the spouse is considered a marital asset subject to division. All retirement accounts acquired or appreciated during the marriage are assets subject to division. The identification of cash assets, tax sheltered assets, future assets, such as stock options, time shares and collections (for example, Hummels, baseball cards, guns, coins) must be fully evaluated and fully disclosed on a financial statement. Oftentimes the marital house is the most valuable marital asset. Whether this house is transferred to a spouse or sold is a matter of strategy between an attorney and client.

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