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Understanding Massachusetts marital property laws

As half of a married couple, you likely already know that your marital assets consist of all the property, possessions and ownership interests you and your spouse have accumulated during your marriage. These are the assets that you and your spouse must divide between you if you undergo a divorce.

Unlike California and a few other states, Massachusetts is not a community property state. What this means is that Massachusetts law does not require you and your spouse to divide your marital property by means of a precise 50/50 split. Instead, your property settlement agreement must be a fair and equitable one.

Fair and equitable factors

If you and your spouse cannot agree between yourselves what constitutes a fair and equitable marital property settlement, a court will decide this for you. Some of the factors that the judge will take into consideration include the following:

  • Your and your spouse's age and health
  • Your and your spouse's financial needs and obligations
  • The income sources of your marriage
  • The current salaries or wages earned by you and your spouse
  • The future job opportunities available to you and your spouse
  • Whether or not either of you has committed spousal misconduct against the other

As a final consideration, the judge will take into account the length of time the two of you have been married.

Separate property

Bear in mind that not all property is marital property. You and your spouse each have your own separate property such as the following:

  • Property either of you owned prior to your marriage
  • Inheritances that either of you received during the marriage
  • Gifts that either of you received during the marriage
  • Settlements or jury awards that either of you received during the marriage as a result of lawsuits filed in your respective names

All of this property belongs to you and your spouse respectively. It is not part of your marital property and therefore is separate from the property you must divide fairly and equitably.

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Salem, MA 01970

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