Determining property division in Massachusetts divorces

No matter how you slice it, divorce is typically abounding with emotion. Dividing one life back into two can simply be a mentally draining process. Massachusetts couples, like couples all across the country, just want to make sure they will be financially prepared for their new separate lives. For many, this requires careful negotiation and knowledge of applicable laws during the property division phase of a divorce.

Protecting personal assets is one of the biggest concerns in a divorce. There is a big difference between community or marital property versus separate or personal property. However, rules regarding each individual asset can be somewhat tricky. One type of asset that is considered personal or separate property would be an inheritance or gift that was given to one spouse before the marriage and would not be subject to division. Other assets like the marital home, retirement accounts and formed businesses could be considered both separate property and marital property, depending on what paperwork the couple has to show for each item.

Assets that are considered marital property are typically subject to an even distribution between each spouse, including the home and any debts shared between the couple; however, if either spouse has sufficient documentation that the asset belongs to them, it may be considered personal property and not subject to division. Things in this category include funds in retirement accounts before marriage or any residence paid for specifically by one spouse — just to name a few. While proving these items are personal property may be difficult, it is possible. Another thing to consider includes assets listed in a prenup or post-marital agreement. Items listed in these agreements as separate property are generally upheld as such during divorce proceedings.

Determining who gets what when discussing property division can create a lot of conflict, but it is possible to equitably and fairly divide assets. It is also possible to ensure any personal assets are left to their rightful owner. While rules regarding property division can be somewhat complex, Massachusetts couples faced with this situation can most certainly come to a fair and balanced agreement that both parties are satisfied with.

Source:, Protecting Your Assets In Divorce, Charla Bradshaw, Feb. 25, 2014

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