Does Massachusetts Support Community Property?
When people think of community property, I think that they think of California that it’s 50-50. I’m not a lawyer in California obviously but when people come and question me about that, I think that it’s what they think. No, we’re not a community property state. We rely upon an asset division and debt division. It must be equitable. Now, is there sort of a presumption that it’s 50-50? Yes, I would say that there is a presumption that it’s 50-50 but it doesn’t have to be 50-50. It can depend on other factors.
For instance people, even if they didn’t have a pre-nuptial agreement, they might want or think that they are entitled to carve out a certain asset because it was clearly traceable to their family or it was clearly something that they had from a previous employer for instance, a retirement plan. So in that case, a judge would consider that, they would consider, for instance on a retirement plan example. They might consider well, when they got married, they had $40,000 for example in the retirement plan from an employer and they’ve kept that same account either with that employer or rolled it over to a third-party person to handle it but that accounts clearly designated.
What they might do is take whatever appreciated on that amount. You know, I’m just making up numbers here but let’s say it’s $60,000. So, the $40,000 might get carved out but the $60,000 that incurred during the marriage would stay in the marital pot. So not every case is 50-50. When you go see a lawyer, if you think that there’s a reason that it’s unfair that there be a 50-50 division, then you let your lawyer know because that’s important because that’s entirely fact-specific to you and your marriage and how you assets got there. The more information your lawyer has about that, the better.
This informational blog post was provided by Cynthia Hanley, an experienced Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer.