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Dividing property after a divorce

If a divorcing couple has not settled their division of assets through a signed Marital Settlement Agreement in Massachusetts, the issue is left to the courts. Massachusetts is an 'equitable distribution" state, meaning that if the parties cannot agree on how to divide their assets and debt, the Family Court within the Judgment of Divorce will award property based on what is deemed to be fair.

It is important to know that 'equitable" and 'fair" are not synonymous with a 50-50 split of marital debt and assets. When determining how much each party gets, a number of factors will be taken into consideration. These factors include the income of each party and their current occupations, vocational skills and potential to be hired. Each party's health and age are also taken into consideration. The length of the marriage and the behavior of each spouse throughout are also used when determining property division.

To determine the assets and debt that must be divided, the Family Court will first determine which assets and debt are actually marital and assign dollar amounts. Once the monetary value is determined, property and debt will be assigned equitably.

A divorcing spouse who has not been able to reach a settlement on property division without the court can benefit from a divorce attorney who can be a strong advocate. It is important that the judge has a clear idea of the spouse's situation and that the spouse receives a favorable ruling.

Source: Divorce Support, "Massachusetts Property Division Factors", September 22, 2014

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