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Property division in Massachusetts

During the divorce process, the parties involved have a lot of decisions they must make. Some of the most challenging decisions usually involve property division. Like many states, Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, which means that property should be divided as equitably as possible; however, equitable does not always mean equal.

In equitable distribution, the property should be divided up in a way that seems fair. While courts support couples who seek to reach an agreement on their own regarding property division, sometimes the court must intervene and make those decisions. The court will look at both martial property, which is the property the couple acquired during the course of the marriage, and separate property, which is the property each spouse owned prior to the marriage and can include gifts and inheritances acquired during the marriage.

Once the properties have been identified, they must be assigned a value. The parties can obtain appraisals for real property and items such as works of art and antiques, while property that already has a monetary value, such as a retirement account, would need to be assessed using an accountant or other financial expert. The actual division of the property can then begin. If the couple cannot reach an agreement on their own, the court will have to decide who gets what, and a judge will base the decisions on numerous factors.

Divorce is seldom easy. Dividing years’ worth of property and assets can be a daunting task. If the Massachusetts couple signed a prenuptial agreement before getting married, the court will consider the stipulations of the agreement when granting property division. In any case, each party in the divorce would do well to retain the services of an experienced family law attorney for help and representation throughout the process.

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