Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

What Worcester ex-couples should know about property division

One of the most challenging aspects of a divorce is property division. It can be very difficult for divorcing couples to take note of every single item of property acquired before and during the marriage. Worcester couples would be wise not to underestimate the importance of this part of divorce since it is crucial to starting a new life.

One of the reasons property division is complex is that a couple has typically amassed a considerable variety of different types of assets. Beside the house, cars and money, there are pension and retirement plans, stocks and business assets to consider as well. It may come as a surprise to Worcester divorcing couples, but properties are not the only items for division; debts also need to be taken into consideration.

Generally, properties are classified as separate property or marital property. Separate property includes possessions owned by a spouse before the marriage, as well as property acquired by one spouse through gift or inheritance during the marriage. It also includes payments received by one party in a personal injury claim. Separate property retains its separate character in a divorce and is kept by the spouse who owns it. However, separate property may become marital property if it is commingled with marital property.

Marital property generally includes any property that is acquired by either or both parties during the course of the marriage. Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state. This means the court will make a reasonable and fair division of the marital property. In equitable division, factors such as length of marriage, standard of living and income potential of the properties are considered. If there are children from the marriage, the needs of the custodial parent in raising the child will also be considered by the court.

Even if a Worcester resident is equipped with some knowledge about property division, it is still wise to seek the advice of a legal professional for a more thorough understanding of dividing properties.

Source: Huffington Post "Understanding How Assets Get Divided In Divorce," Jeff Landers, June 14, 2013

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