Massachusetts operates under the principle of equitable distribution, which means that in a divorce case, the family court judge will divide marital property fairly, but not necessarily equally. The marital property encompasses income, assets, and property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Separate property, on the other hand, refers to income, property, and assets owned by a spouse before getting married.
Given the intricate legal landscape and emotional complexities involved in a divorce, it is prudent to have a seasoned Massachusetts divorce attorney who is well-versed in property division by your side to guide you through the process. Attorney Jay Davis, along with the legal team at Davis Law Group, possesses the skills, experience, and resources necessary to protect your rights during property division in a divorce. To request your free consultation, call us at 617-221-3548 or reach us online.
Factors Considered in Determining Equitable Distribution in a Massachusetts Divorce
Various factors are taken into account when determining equitable distribution in Massachusetts divorce cases, including:
- Duration of the marriage
- Age of each party
- Health condition of each party
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Income and earning capacity of each party
- Need for additional education or training for either party
- Value of property in the marital estate
- Loss of inheritance and pension rights resulting from the dissolution of the marriage
- Loss of insurance coverage or benefits due to the divorce
- Award of maintenance or support
- Contribution or interest in joint marital property
- “Reasonable” future educational needs of both parties
- Liquidity or other characteristics of the property to be divided
- Interests and assets related to a business and the economic impact of keeping such assets intact
- Tax consequences for both parties
- Dissipation of assets by either spouse
- Overall financial circumstances of each party
- Additional factors or concepts that the court deems fair and appropriate
When it comes to property division in a divorce, Davis Law Group, led by divorce lawyer Jay Davis, assists clients in establishing priorities, selecting battles wisely, and securing their fair share of marital assets. Our well-established team of Massachusetts family lawyers represents individuals throughout the state. Call us at 617-221-3548 to schedule your free consultation or write to us online.
Equitable Distribution in Massachusetts Divorces Doesn’t Always Mean Equality
After considering the relevant factors, the courts may decide to divide the property in favor of one spouse rather than equally between both spouses. Here are some examples of how property division can be unequal in a Massachusetts divorce:
- Intentional Depletion of Marital Assets: When one spouse deliberately depletes a joint bank account during divorce proceedings, the court may determine that the spouse engaged in financial misconduct and improperly wasted the money. As a result, the court may order a more equitable division of property in favor of the other spouse to compensate for the lost funds.
- Advancement of Career: For instance, if one spouse stayed at home to care for the children while the other pursued a law degree and now holds a high-paying position at a law firm, the court may allocate a more equitable share of the property to the spouse who stayed at home due to their contribution to the other spouse’s career growth.
- Certain Health Conditions: In cases where one spouse has significant chronic health issues preventing them from working and earning a living, while the other spouse is fully capable of working and has a high income, the court may consider the non-working spouse’s age, health, and the adverse financial impact of the divorce. Consequently, the court might award a higher percentage of the property to the non-working spouse.
- Custodial Care: If one spouse will be remaining in the marital home to care for the couple’s young children, and it is deemed in the best interest of the children to continue living there and attending local schools, the court may grant a higher portion of the property to the custodial parent to compensate for the additional expenses involved.
- Mortgage Payments: In situations where one spouse continues making mortgage payments on the family home during the divorce process while the other spouse does not contribute, the court may determine that the mortgage-paying spouse deserves compensation through a larger share of the property.
- Custodial Parent: When one of the couple’s children has a disability, and the custodial parent cannot work full-time due to the caregiving responsibilities, the court may distribute a more equitable amount of property to the custodial parent to assist in the care of the disabled child.
Can a Spouse’s Misconduct Impact Property Division in a Massachusetts Divorce?
The Massachusetts property division statute includes “the conduct of the parties during the marriage” as a mandatory consideration. While extreme cases like soliciting the spouse’s murder can result in a significant disparity in property division, even less severe misconduct can influence the distribution.
How Does a Prenup Agreement Affect Distribution of Marital Assets in Massachusetts?
A prenup in Massachusetts is a legally-binding agreement before marriage that outlines the distribution of assets in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement typically holds significant weight during a divorce. Based on this, under Massachusetts law, the court may reassess the terms of a prenuptial agreement in exceptional conditions, such as deterioration of the mental health of a spouse or external economic factors diluting the agreement’s intent.
Choose the Leading Property Division Attorneys in Massachusetts
Couples can simplify the divorce process by reaching an agreement on asset division beforehand. In relation to this, disagreements may be part of the picture, especially in high-asset divorces. Rebuilding your property and assets can take years, so it’s paramount not to let your divorce jeopardize your financial well-being.
Davis Law Group, led by highly regarded divorce attorney Jay Davis, offers strong legal representation to protect your rights during property division in a divorce. To set up your free consultation, call us at 617-221-3548 or contact us online.
James H. (Jay) Davis III
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