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Equal vs fair: Massachusetts property division can be complicated

No matter how long a couple has been married -- be it a few months or many decades -- one aspect of a divorce that is always sure to present some confusion and stress is asset division. Massachusetts is an equitable property division state, meaning that marital property is divided fairly, though not necessarily equally. Before deciding how property and assets will be divided comes the process of determining what qualifies as marital property and which assets are separate.

When the parties cannot agree directly, the courts will decide what property is marital and will order that each divorcing partner receive an equitable share. This fair share, however, does not always mean an equal split. When determining how much to give to each spouse, courts consider a variety of factors, including health, age, earning capacity and more.

Additionally, some property is not considered marital and thus is not subject to division. If property or money was received by one spouse either as a gift or through an inheritance, that spouse is typically able to retain the property as his or her own. Other factors may come into play as well, such as in a case where a separate property was sold during the marriage; if, for example, the proceeds were used to buy other property, the first spouse could potentially get a larger share of the division.

Issues may grow even more complex when certain assets are partly separate and partly marital. Furthermore, if one spouse is a business owner, this complicates the process of property division as well. The more complex the asset and property division situation, the more a divorcing individual is likely to benefit from the experienced legal counsel of a knowledgeable Massachusetts divorce attorney.

Source:, "Divorce -- Division of Property", David Walker, July 30, 2017

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