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marital property

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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What courts consider marital property

Massachusetts law provides some specific guidelines for the court’s consideration regarding property division in a divorce proceeding. Since Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, the court is charged with facilitating a settlement that is deemed fair to both parties. This approach differs from a community property division in that “fair” may not necessarily mean “equal.” When a mutually satisfactory division of assets cannot be reached in a divorce proceeding, the court first must determine what assets and debts are to be considered marital property. It must then proceed with an appropriate valuation of that property. Once the property is valued, the court then issues a ruling setting forth a division of property deemed to be equitable. Several factors must be considered by the court in its decision. These factors are defined by Massachusetts statutes, including the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health, station and occupation of the parties, the amounts and sources of income, vocational skills and future earning capacities, employability, estate, the liabilities and needs of each party and the amount and duration of any alimony awarded. Additionally, the present and future needs of dependent children must be considered. The court may also consider each party’s contributions with regard to the respective estates, the contributions of each party as homemaker and other specific considerations such as health coverage. The stress of a divorce proceeding can be considerable. Seeking the advice of family law attorney, David M. Gabriel and Associates may

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Protecting Inheritances

Have you inherited property, heirlooms, money from your family and wondering how to protect what is yours in the event you and your spouse decide to divorce? What is considered marital property when determining property division in a divorce? This can vary depending on the circumstances unique to your situation. However, there are steps you can take to improve your outcome in the event of a divorce. First and foremost, if you are not married yet but are planning to get married soon, you should consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This will help shield your assets such as money, an inherited business or property. While not full proof, a prenuptial agreement can declare what inheritances or gifts each spouse agrees to surrender rights to in the event of divorce. Another important point to consider is safeguarding documentation regarding the intended beneficiary of a gift or inheritance. If you do have something in writing such as letters from a family member describing the designated recipient of a gift, keep these items in a safe place. This form of documentation showing intent may help you when dividing property in a divorce. Never co-mingle inherited money or other assets into an account with your spouse’s funds. Keep your assets in a separate bank or investment account and, again, save documentation. When couples pool their money, it is difficult to differentiate who has claim to it, even if some of it was specifically given to one recipient. As far as more expensive gifts

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The role of artwork in a divorce property division

Massachusetts residents who are seeking a divorce may be interested in some information on how artwork is treated at the end of a marriage. Depending on when it was created, the pieces may be up for grabs when marital property is divided. When a couple makes the decision to divorce, they need to go through the property division process and divide their existing marital assets. When one of the spouses is an artist, they may be unclear about what to do with their artwork. An artist often believes that their works belong to them, because they created the pieces. In the eyes of the law, however, the artwork itself is simply another piece of property owned by the couple. Because of this, the artwork is subject to the same equitable division principles as the rest of the former couple’s assets. Artwork presents complex property division issues due to its often-subjective nature. A monetary value needs to be assigned to each piece by an appraiser or gallery owner. In addition, any licensing agreements for the artwork created by one of the parties needs to be included as property and revenue that belongs to the marriage. If artwork was created prior to the marriage, though, it will most likely not be part of this marital property division. Failure to properly account for the value of this artwork could open the creator up to allegations of fraud and could end up losing them all of that property. To avoid this, legal counsel may

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Impact of property and debt division on credit

As a part of the property settlement in a Massachusetts divorce, the debts the couple have will also be divided in the divorce decree. When a debt is allocated to a spouse who fails to pay or pays late, the credit of the other spouse, if the debt was one that was held jointly, may be negatively impacted despite the order. Creditors are not parties to divorce actions, and as such, they can still hold anyone listed on an account liable for its balance. This can cause a problem in the event the spouse that is supposed to repay the debt according to the property settlement fails to do so. His or her late payments or non-payment can be reported on the other spouse’s credit report, and the company may initiate collection actions against either or both spouses. One option a spouse has in the event his or her ex fails to pay a debt that was required to be paid under the property division order is to file a motion for contempt with the family law court having jurisdiction over the divorce action. The court may then take steps to enforce its orders. When people are getting divorced, it may be a good idea to try to get their names off of any jointly held accounts, including debts for which they will not be responsible under the property settlement order. The marital property will include the debts incurred during the marriage, and those debts should be expected to be

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Courts consider several factors in marital property division

Massachusetts law provides some specific guidelines for the court’s consideration regarding property division in a divorce proceeding. Since Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, the court is charged with facilitating a settlement that is deemed fair to both parties. This approach differs from a community property division in that “fair” may not necessarily mean “equal.” When a mutually satisfactory division of assets cannot be reached in a divorce proceeding, the court first must determine what assets and debts are to be considered marital property. It must then proceed with an appropriate valuation of that property. Once the property is valued, the court then issues a ruling setting forth a division of property deemed to be equitable. Several factors must be considered by the court in its decision. These factors are defined by Massachusetts statutes, including the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health, station and occupation of the parties, the amounts and sources of income, vocational skills and future earning capacities, employability, estate, the liabilities and needs of each party and the amount and duration of any alimony awarded. Additionally, the present and future needs of dependent children must be considered. The court may also consider each party’s contributions with regard to the respective estates, the contributions of each party as homemaker and other specific considerations such as health coverage. The stress of a divorce proceeding can be considerable. Seeking the advice of a family law attorney may help to facilitate the

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Division of marital property in Massachusetts

During a divorce proceeding, distribution of marital property can be a complex process. Massachusetts has established statutes regarding property division of various types of assets. Fair distribution of assets, including alimony, health insurance and business values, is ultimately determined by the court. The division of marital property has tax consequences that must also be considered by both parties. In addition to one party paying alimony to the other, the commonwealth’s courts may also order that one spouse pay for vested and non-vested retirement accounts, investments made together and funds earned during the marriage. Other assets that the court may assign to be distributed include retirement accounts, military and veteran’s pay and pensions, private pensions, profit-sharing ventures, annuities, deferred compensation and insurance settlements. Determination of equitable distribution also includes physical property or the property’s value. When performing a complex property division, the court takes into consideration the needs of dependent children. Additionally, it factors the ability of each party to earn a living, the contribution that each spouse made to the household income and the contribution that each made in running the household. The values of shared assets must be verified when marital assets are distributed during a divorce. The values of personal property, any jointly held business, land, homes and other valuables may be a contentious issue between the two parties. An attorney can help with a thorough investigation and analysis to ensure that their client receives an equitable distribution of marital property at the moment of the divorce and

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Equitable distribution and property division in divorce

One of the hardest aspects of divorce is the division of property between two spouses and understanding equitable distribution. Finances are often one of the major points of contention in a marriage, and this can carry over into the divorce process. It is beneficial for Massachusetts couples to understand equitable distribution and how this will affect their divorce process. During a divorce, a couple has the option to work together on an agreement that will dictate the division of assets and other aspects of dividing finances. This can be achieved through mediation and the assistance of each spouse’s legal teams. However, this amicable process is not always possible with every couple, and it may be up to the discretion of the court how property and assets will be divided. Equitable distribution is the division of property according to what the court deems reasonable or fair. This is based on spouse earnings, marital property, length of the marriage and more. It is important to remember that equitable division in no way guarantees that this process will be completely equal or reflect the wishes of the couple. For this reason, many couples choose to work on an agreement to divide their property. Determining how property should be divided is not an easy task. Because of the potential complexity of this process, it is beneficial to understand all options and how to pursue the optimal outcome from the divorce. Equitable distribution is one aspect of a divorce that may be confusing for Massachusetts

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Proposed bill prohibits dating while residing in marital property

When married couples decide to terminate their marriage, there is always a lot to consider, such as who will be the one to move out of the current residence. In many cases, one of the spouses will remain in the home during the divorce process, until the division of all marital property has been decided. It is not uncommon for individuals entering a new relationship before the divorce is finalized, unfortunately a recent bill that has been proposed in Massachusetts, may prohibit the couple from conducting their relationship while the marital home. The proposed bill will affect proceedings in which a shared residence and/or children are involved. If passed, the bill would prevent the spouse living in the marital home from dating or engaging in a sexual relationship within the house until the divorce is finalized. All aspects of the divorce must be resolved — including property division, custody arrangements and alimony agreements. The new bill was first presented last year, but has not been reviewed. An extension was granted for consideration in the state legislature until the end of June. If the bill passes and is signed into law, divorcing spouses would no longer be able to bring partners from a new relationship into the marital home until the divorce is finalized, including the determination of any issues regarding child custody or the finances between the parties. A divorce in Massachusetts is not deemed final until a minimum of 120 days from when it is granted. However, the bill

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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

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