Are you about to get a divorce and thus, concerned about the fate of your assets? Are you worried that you may end up losing it all — cash, investments, real estate, retirement funds, and even your business? In Massachusetts, is everything divided down the middle? Would the divorce mean bankruptcy or financial ruin for you?
If all these questions are keeping you up at night, this comprehensive post is for you.
Contrary to what you may believe, an impending divorce does NOT have to mean financial despair and a skilled divorce lawyer can do a lot to protect your assets.
Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state but ‘equitable’ doesn’t mean an equal distribution of property. The equitable distribution system can be unpredictable, which is one of the key reasons why you need a good divorce attorney on your side. At Davis Law Group, Jay Davis can focus on the distribution factors that are in your favor and cut down on the ones that are not.
Jay can help you take a proactive approach, so you are not entirely at the mercy of the justice system when it comes to dividing your property and assets in the divorce. You can reach out to him at 617-221-3548 and schedule a free consultation.
Separate vs. Marital Assets in a Massachusetts Divorce
If you didn’t sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with your soon-to-be-ex spouse, you will want to understand the concept of marital assets (assets that belong to both spouses) and separate assets (assets that are owned by one spouse).
Marital assets is everything that was acquired by the couple during the course of their marriage. All the marital assets and property are subject to division in Massachusetts, but it may not be divided equally. The court will divide the marital property in a way that is considered fair and equitable depending on the circumstances.
Separate property or assets are not divided in a divorce in Massachusetts; they remain in the possession of the spouse who owns them (with notably rare exceptions). Generally speaking, this is the property that is bought/inherited/received as a gift by one spouse before the marriage. It could also be something that was received as a gift or inheritance by the spouse during the marriage. While determining the asset division ratio, the Massachusetts judge looks at a variety of factors, such as the health and age of both spouses, the earning capacity of each spouse, the duration of the marriage, etc.
When Asset Distribution Becomes Challenging
If one of the spouses (or both of them) have overseas accounts, several business assets, or substantial inherited wealth, the distribution game can get a little murky. If your ex-spouse was generally the one handling your finances, you need to make sure they don’t engage in devious business transactions to try to reduce the value of the family business or hide the assets.
This is where Jay Davis and his team of talented investigators can help; they will thoroughly examine the financial books, tax documents, bank accounts, and income statements to make sure the true value of the business(s) and assets is uncovered.
Managing your assets during and after the divorce is something you need to deal with very carefully so as to secure your financial future. Consider working with a Massachusetts divorce attorney, such as Jay Davis, who has extensive experience in property division matters, and can connect you with the top financial advisors and wealth managers in the state to protect your interests.
How to Protect Your Property and Assets
Stay On Top of Your Credit Score and Joint Accounts
Whether you have already filed for a divorce or are just thinking about it, take a good look at your credit history. Start taking the necessary steps to grow a healthy credit score separate from your ex-spouse. Once the divorce process begins, talk to your divorce attorney to ensure all of your joint accounts are either frozen or closed.
If you have a retirement account, discuss with your attorney how to handle it. Even though retirement accounts may be in the name of only one spouse, they are considered joint marital property in Massachusetts.
The divorce attorneys at Davis Law Group have one goal — to protect the assets and financial future of their clients. We don’t hesitate to be aggressive during the negotiations with opposing counsel both inside and out of the courtroom. If an asset belongs to you alone, Jay will work hard to separate it from the marital property, so it stays solely in your possession. Call us at 617-221-3548 to speak to Jay Davis or write to us here.
Keep Track of Your Debts As Well As the Assets
One of the most important things to do during a divorce is to get a crystal clear picture of all the assets and debts owned by you and your spouse. If you think your spouse is not being honest about their share of debts or property, your attorney will help you get a full disclosure.
Also, you should know about all the non-marital assets that you may have received as inheritances and/or gifts. Even though they solely belong to you, they may prove useful later when your attorney is negotiating a desirable settlement.
Change Your Will Immediately
If you have children or any other heirs, your primary financial responsibility after the divorce will only be toward them and not your ex-spouse. So, talk to your attorney and create a new will. Make sure you clearly state in the will that your ex-spouse is not to receive any financial benefits and they are not to act as a trustee or estate administrator either.
Keep Meticulous Financial Records and Documentation
You should have all your financial records (regarding your bank accounts, retirement, tax returns, and investments) for the last 3 years. Your Massachusetts divorce attorney will need these documents to respond to the Probate Court Rule 410 (compulsory self-disclosure), and to prepare your Probate Court 401 financial statement. Your tax return documents should include 1099s, W2s, attachments, and schedules for the last 3 years belonging to you as well as your spouse. Keep these documents in a place where your spouse can’t access them.
Contact an Experienced and Effective Divorce Attorney in Massachusetts
“I have used the services of Davis Law Group several times during the last 10 years and found Jay to be an extremely professional and caring attorney. Whereas some law firms use boiler plates and treat clients as transactions, Jay and his firm have cared about my specific needs as a client and customized to those needs. I highly recommend this firm.” — Rob Foley
This may be your first time facing a divorce, a child custody battle, or any other family issue, but Jay has been helping his clients since 1998. With the Davis Law Group in Massachusetts, you can expect individual attention, experienced representation, and knowledgeable guidance so your new life is as financially stable as possible.
Contact Jay Davis at 617-221-3548 or leave us a message here to set up a confidential consultation.
James H. (Jay) Davis III
Thank you for reading. Need to talk? 617-221-3548