In Massachusetts, divorcing couples must divide their marital property and assign their debts between spouses. Couples can make a fair arrangement on their own, or a judge or arbitrator can decide on their behalf if they cannot reach an agreement.
Learn more about the division of property if you have separated from your spouse in Massachusetts.
Equitable property division
In Massachusetts, property division after divorce must be “equitable.” Equitable means that the property division is fair, but equitable division does not mean each person has to receive exactly the same amount of property and debt. If you have extensive or complex assets, professional valuation of items like business holdings, real estate and art can inform your division decision.
Separate vs. marital property
Marital property is property acquired during the marriage. Acquisition of separate property dates to before marriage or after separation. Property given during marriage as a gift or inheritance just to one person is also separate property. In Massachusetts, a judge can divide all property regardless of property status, as long as he or she meets the equitable division standard.
Commingled assets are both marital and separate property. An example is a pre-marital bank account of one spouse that the other spouse has made deposits to over the years.
Massachusetts laws favor couples dividing property themselves. Couples can assign each item to a person or divide any proceeds from a sale. They must also assign all debt. A judge considers many factors when dividing the estate, including contributions to the estate and to the family unit.