How do estate assets get divided in a divorce in Massachusetts?
A marital estate in a divorce that is subject to division by the court consists of all assets whenever and however acquired. That applies if there is no pre-nuptial agreement. So if you have something prior to the marriage, that is considered in the divorce. Now, that does not mean that it gets divided 50-50. It may or may not get divided 50-50 depending on how that asset was treated in the divorce. So the marital estate, so to speak, is anything that you have or anything you owe. All of that gets considered by the court in trying to reach a fair and equable settlement or if the judge has to rule a fair and equitable judgment. Sometime for instance, inheritance become an issue and that’s a pretty grey area in the law in Massachusetts. Different judges can treat that differently but one of the factors that they look at was whether or not the inheritance was actually received during the marriage or whether it’s just vested by virtue of the death of the person they’re inheriting from and also how they treated it during the marriage. If for instance, you inherited $50,000 from your aunt a year after you’re married and then you bought your first house with it and then you rolled that over into your second house and it’s now 20 years later, you have much less of a chance of getting that money back than if you received the $50,000 inheritance from your aunt a year after you separated and just as you filed for divorce. That’s why the treatment of inheritance is as pretty factually dependent. The other factors, there are basically 18 that the court relies on in dividing a marital estate and that’s the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, their health, their occupation, station in life and we’ll go through all of the 18 factors because some of them are combined factors but I’m going over the primary ones and the rest, for instance, is contribution of that asset to the estate, how it got there, preservation of the estate, who was the spender and who wasn’t. Those are the factors that really matter and also, of course, they take into account the needs of the parties.
This informational blog post was brought to you by Cynthia L. Hanley, an experienced Mansfield, Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer.