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Disclosing assets is key to reaching a fair divorce settlement

For many Massachusetts couples considering divorce, a number of obstacles can create disputes and prevent timely resolution. Above all, this conflict can make it difficult for a fair divorce settlement to be reached.

However, if a cash-based business is involved in the split, determining assets and receipts may be far more difficult. Massachusetts, being an equitable distribution state, leaves it up to a judge to determine final disbursement, but the judge needs accurate financial documentation in order make a fair assessment.

If one partner in a marriage runs a cash-only business, it may be fairly easy to misrepresent some of the income and hide it from the other spouse. A judge may reach an unfair decision if not presented with complete facts involving a cash-based business' value, which can prevents one spouse from getting their fair share.

Naturally, the easiest way to handle a divorce is if couples can reach an agreement outside of court. However, this may not always be the case, especially if one spouse is determined to retain more than the other. Marital property is generally considered community property or separate property. Community property is divided equally, while separate property is kept by the owner.

In any divorce, it is wise for both spouses to be honest and upfront with their income. Not only is it illegal to misrepresent cash-based income, but it can also unnecessarily complicate divorce proceedings. This is exactly why it's important for couples to keep open lines of communication, especially if one does not regularly have a view into the other's business dealings.

Source: Forbes, "What A Divorcing Woman Needs To Know About Her Husband's Cash-Based Business," Jeff Landers, Jan. 30, 2013

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