When a couple divorces, there are many things for them to consider before going their separate ways. A large part in finalizing a divorce is the division of assets between both spouses in the marriage. While some couples can come to an agreement on which assets belong to whom, other couples have difficulty deciding which spouse has the right to certain belongings. In the event of this, spouses may have to go to court in order to decide where the assets rightfully belong.
Marital vs. Separate Property
The state of Massachusetts is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that the state court does not always distribute assets equally. Instead, they split the assets fairly between the two spouses. Doing so requires the court to decipher the difference between marital and separate property in the relationship:
- Marital Property: Any assets and/or debts that are acquired during the marriage by both spouses. This also includes any property that was brought into the marriage separately but was converted into marital property.
- Separate Property: Any assets and/or debts that were attained before the marriage and agreed to stay separate at the start of the marriage. This may include other properties, gifts, and inheritance.
When a court is able to establish the difference between the marital and separate property of a couple, they can distribute the assets. Due to the fact that Massachusetts courts follow an equitable distribution, other factors may be taken into consideration. These considerations may change what the court deems to be fair for the separating couple. Some of these factors may include:
- The age and health of each spouse
- Economic circumstances
- Each spouse’s contribution to marital property
- Any tax consequence that may apply
Usually, courts do not consider if a spouse is at fault for the end of the marriage when they distribute assets. They may consider is if one spouse carelessly uses their assets to change their finances.
When a couple is going through a divorce, mediation is usually seen as helpful in coming to agreements on certain marital issues. With mediation, separating spouses can negotiate in order to decide how to divide their assets instead of leaving the decision up to a judge. Mediation can often the couple and the court money as well as a lot of time.
Contact our Firm
If you are going through a divorce and wish to speak with an attorney about your division of assets, contact the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. today.
If you require compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance for a matter of divorce, family or estate law, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley today. Our firm proudly serves clients in Mansfield, Massachusetts and throughout Bristol County.