Are Gifts Subject to Division in Divorce?


Like many couples who enter a marriage, you may operate under the guiding principle of “what’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine.” Without realizing it, this idea of shared property governs how Massachusetts regards marital property. In a divorce, the court must determine whether a couple’s assets are marital or separate to decide how to divide their marital property equitably. While some exceptions exist, marital assets typically include any property obtained during a marriage, regardless of which spouse acquired it. Separate assets, on the other hand, are those that were acquired before a marriage. It’s crucial to note that not all assets are subject to division during a divorce. That said, many couples wonder whether gifts are subject to division during divorce. If you’re concerned about losing the gifts you’ve received during your marriage in a divorce, it’s in your best interest to contact a determined Bristol County Assets and Debts Lawyer who can help you protect your assets during property distribution. Please continue reading to learn how gifts are handled during property distribution in Massachusetts.Β 

How Are Assets Divided in a Massachusetts Divorce?

In Massachusetts, assets and debts are divided according to equitable distribution laws. This means any assets acquired by either party during the marriage will be divided equitably. This does not necessarily mean the couple will receive an equal 50/50 split of their shared marital assets. However, they will be entitled to a fair distribution of their property. This means if the court finds it fair, given the circumstances, one spouse may receive a more significant portion of the couple’s marital assets. Generally speaking, the court will consider all relevant factors to determine a just split. The following include but are not limited to some of the factors a judge will take into account:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of each party
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The income of each party
  • The education and earning capacity of both each party
  • The value of marital assets
  • Any alimony or child support awards
  • The tax implications
  • Each party’s financial obligations and debts
  • Any other factor relevant to fairness

Are Gifts Considered Marital Property in a Divorce?

As mentioned above, not all assets are subject to division in a divorce. Separate property, assets acquired outside the marriage, are usually not up for division. Determining whether a gift is considered separate or marital property can be challenging. Typically, gifts addressed to one spouse will not be considered marital property. However, those addressed to the couple may be considered marital property under certain circumstances. For example, if you receive a furniture set after moving into your new home, this gift would be considered marital property. If you receive a gift for your birthday specifically addressed to you, this asset will be regarded as separate property.

It’s crucial to note that gifts given to you by your spouse or vice versa during your marriage will be considered marital property and, therefore, subject to equitable distribution. Ultimately, if you give your spouse a gift during the marriage, you shouldn’t expect to receive it just because it was gifted.

If you want to protect your assets in a divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact an experienced lawyer from The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C., who can help you resolve property distribution issues.