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Division of Assets

Small Business Subject to Division of Assets in Divorce

Representing husband.  Long term marriage.  Husband was a state employee. Wife owned and operated a successful family business which was a marital asset, subject to division.  Parties each engaged valuation experts for purposes of determining income and value of wife’s business. Extensive discovery conducted.  Valuation and income assessment, including determination of various perquisites received by wife, resulted in favorable settlement for husband, in lieu of trial.

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Protecting Assets in a Divorce

Divorce is as much a financial blow as it is an emotional one. Alimony and child support may take a large, even unreasonable amount out of your monthly paycheck. Conversely, if your income is much smaller than your soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s, or if you stayed at home to look after the family, you might find yourself in dire financial straits if you are not awarded a just settlement. You deserve a divorce settlement that takes into account your circumstances and your contributions to the marriage— and financial, logistical, or emotional. In this article, you will find three steps to follow to protect your assets in divorce and reach the settlement that is best for you. I. Be Open and Honest—and Savvy On your end, it is important not to hide any of your assets. Hiding your assets, or even appearing to hide your assets, may be used against you in court by your spouse and his or her counsel. In fact, most people’s attempts to hide their assets—by spending large amounts of cash—fail to improve their divorce outcomes. This is for two reasons. First, because Massachusetts family courts take into account income (earnings) rather than expenditure (spending). Second, because assets are defined as more than cash, excessive spending fails to protect non-liquid holdings like stocks, bonds, and even intellectual property. To understand the full scope of your assets, it is worth investing in professional help to you value and locate them. This way you can have the knowledge you need to II.

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Does Massachusetts divide property equally between the spouses during a divorce?

Under Massachusetts’s law, marital property is divided equitably. Massachusetts defines “marital property” as any property—be it income, assets, real estate, or everyday items—that comes into possession of the couple or either of the spouses individually during the course of the marriage. This could include trade secrets, stock holdings, and artistic creations. For individuals of high net worth, or those who make their living by possessing valuable intellectual property, it is especially valuable to have a prenuptial agreement in place to keep this property separate from that held in common in the marriage. In deciding what is an “equitable” division of property, the court will consider a number of factors. These include if the divorce is no-fault or at-fault, the relative incomes of the parties involved, and the financial contributions made by each party during the marriage, including contributions made as a home maker and caregiver. If you are seeking to protect your hard-earned assets from someone who wants more than his or her fair share, or if the value of your contributions to the marriage and household are being downplayed, call our office today to discuss your case. We’ll help you find peace of mind.

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Using Marital Assets to Pay for your Divorce

Can I use money from my joint account to pay for my Divorce? Can I get my spouse to pay for my divorce? The financial part of divorce can be overwhelming to many clients. Many clients did not handle the finances in their marriage, did not work during their marriage, or are generally unaware of what they can and can’t do with joint funds during divorce proceedings. In Massachusetts, when a party files for divorce an automatic financial restraining order is used with the summons that is served on the other party. The automatic restraining order restricts either party from selling, transferring, encumbering, assigning, removing or in any way disposing of any property, real or personal, belonging to or acquired by, either party. However, there are few notable exceptions to this rule, one being that either party can use funds for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in connection with the action. This means that any joint funds could be used within reason to pay for your divorce. That being said, we often suggest that if a client knows they are going to file for divorce, that they set aside some money into a personal account for fees and costs prior to filing for divorce. This method prevents a potentially contentious argument about using money directly for your joint accounts. Additionally, clients often ask if they can have their spouse pay for the divorce. If there is a large income disparity, the moving party can motion the court pursuant to M.G.L.C

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A prenup can simplify Massachusetts property division

When a couple is preparing to begin a life together as husband and wife, many consider drafting a prenuptial agreement. Once considered to be solely in the realm of the rich and famous, these contracts are becoming commonplace within many marriages, regardless of wealth. A prenuptial agreement can greatly simplify the property division portion of a Massachusetts divorce, in the event that a marriage does not work out. In order to create a prenup that will withstand any future legal challenge, there are a few necessary precautions that should be taken at the onset. A prenup should be clearly drafted and easy for all parties to understand. It should outline a fair distribution of assets in the event of a divorce, and not make any extreme or unbalanced demands. Finally, a prenuptial agreement should be just that: an agreement, not a condition of marriage. Should one party try to challenge a prenup, the matter will likely go before a judge. Judges will review the agreement to ensure that it was created as an outline of how assets are to be divided in the event of divorce. Stipulations or conditions that are unfair or heavily biased toward one party are likely to be thrown out. In the event that the entire document is found to be invalid, the property division process will revert back to the guidelines of the state. The best way to create a prenuptial agreement that is fair and enforceable is to work together to structure the Massachusetts

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Property division can lead to Massachusetts condo disputes

As some Massachusetts residents know, having a vacation condo is a luxury couples enjoy. However, when a couple decides to divorce, the shared condo can become a thorn in the property division process. If the condominium is not the primary residence, then charges and fees associated with the shared property can complicate property division. Condominiums are not often the main place of residence for many couples as they are more commonly used as vacation spaces or rental property. Nevertheless, fees must be paid to building owners to maintain the space. When a couple is divorcing, building owners can often be burdened with a lack of fee payment. If the issue of who will be sole owner of a condo is unclear, one party may not wish to continue to pay maintenance fees on a place they do not live and may not own after the divorce. Building owners may face their own legal issues if a divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement about a shared condo. Owners may need legal paperwork should one individual wish to keep the other title holder out of the shared space. Additionally, if the parties cannot come to terms with fee payments, building owners may have to take action for nonpayment, which could include eviction or suing for compensation. Property division can become exceedingly complicated when third parties are involved. Making the divorce and division process as painless as possible is usually the route most parties would like to take. Understanding the rights and

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Investing the proceeds from property division

Once the dust settles and the papers are all signed, many newly divorced individuals find that they have a new set of decisions to make. Among these is what to do with the proceeds gained from the property division process. For Massachusetts resident who are emerging from divorce, it may be tempting to put off making additional decision, especially if the divorce was contentious or lengthy. However, letting one’s divorce proceeds simply sit in the bank is never the most financially savvy option. The money that comes as a result of divorce is best put to use in building financial security for one’s future. Whether that means establishing emergency savings, investing in a retirement plan or purchasing a mix of stocks and other investment vehicles, the choices made at this stage can greatly affect one’s finances in the years to come. In addition, there is a great deal of benefit gained from taking a proactive stance toward one’s finances, especially for parties who were not involved in the financial management aspects of the former marriage. Retirement planning should play a role in how divorce proceeds are allocated. In some cases, divorced spouses who were married for at least 10 years can claim benefits from the Social Security record of their former spouse. This is not, however, a comprehensive retirement plan, and should be considered as a means of supplemental retirement income only. The best method of determining how to invest for retirement is to asses existing finances and then estimate

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Puppy love complicates property division in Massachusetts

Massachusetts couples who are beginning the divorce process are often caught off guard with the sheer volume of details that need to be ironed out. Issues of property division and child custody usually top the list of priorities, but there are many smaller details that must be dealt with as well. Splitting one household into two, and working out which party will retain which assets, can be a very complicated procedure. Many spouses make assumptions about where the family pets will reside following a split. They are often surprised, however, when they learn that the other spouse holds opposing opinions on the matter. When couples cannot agree about where the pets will live, they often ask a judge to decide. Many states treat pets as marital property, and some judges will refuse to become involved in decisions over where they will live following the divorce. Others may address the issue, working out a detailed ‘custody’ arrangement that splits time with the pets between the two spouses. However, it is important to understand that no judge can make a truly comprehensive determination about what is in the best interests of a pet, simply because the judge is not familiar with the animal or its relationship with the parties. As with most property division issues surrounding a Massachusetts divorce, the best resolution is one in which the parties work together to find a solution that works best for them. It is important to try and keep the pet’s best interests at the

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