Separating property that you have accumulated during years of marriage may seem overwhelming and emotional. Whether you choose to separate your own marital property through mediation or let the court make the final decision, it is important to know how property is divided in the divorce process.
Massachusetts, like many other states in the country, separates marital items, assets and debt according to the equitable division of property model, according to Massachusetts state statutes. Unlike community property, where all marital property is divided equally in half, items are separated according to what courts deem fair and equitable.
Before the courts make their final decision as to what is fair for each party, they will often consider several factors. These include the following:
- Length of marriage
- Source of income
- Health and age of each party
- Occupation of each party
The court may also look at whether domestic violence was involved. While each situation has unique circumstances, equitable division of property helps to ensure each party gets what they need and deserve in the final settlement.
Also referred to as community property, marital property consists of more than furniture, cars and homes. It is important you include less commonly thought of items, such as expensive art, wine, antiques, coin and classic car collections. Assets include 401k plans, retirement plans, stocks, term life insurance plans and income tax refunds. If you or your spouse loaned money to a third party during the marriage, those assets can be divided once repaid. Furthermore, any gifts exchanged between you and your spouse during the marriage can be divided as well.