How is a marital estate divided?

Division of Assets and Debts

A marital estate in a divorce in Massachusetts that is subject to division by the court consists of all the assets and debts from the marriage. The marital estate is anything you have or anything you owe. These assets and debts may or may not get divided 50-50 depending on how the asset was treated. All of this is considered by the court when trying to reach a fair and equitable settlement.  If the Judge must rule, it is called a fair and equitable judgment.

Sometimes inheritances become an issue. Judges treat inheritances differently.  That being said, one of the factors Judges look at is whether or not the inheritance was actually received during the marriage.  Also, how they treated the inheritance during the marriage matters. For instance, consider you inherited $50,000 from your aunt a year after you were married. You used it to buy your first house. Consequently, you rolled that over into your second house. 20 years hence, you have little chance of getting that money back. However, had you received the inheritance from your aunt a year after you separated and just as you filed for divorce, you would have a better shot at getting that money back. This is why the treatment of inheritance is so dependent on the facts of the case. The court relies on 18 different factors when it comes to dividing a marital estate. The following are some of them:

  • the length of the marriage
  • the age of the parties
  • their health
  • their occupation
  • station in life
  • how the money got into the estate
  • preservation of the estate
  • spending habits of either spouse

Most divorce attorneys will go over all 18 factors with you when you meet with them.