If a marriage seems to be unraveling, several aspects may be stressful. One is dividing the property. Any anxiety can be lessened by knowing how the law works. Below are five key facts in Massachusetts division of property law.
- One, a divorcing couple may handle the division of property themselves. If each spouse can agree on how they want the property divided, they can draw up a property settlement agreement (PSA). It is given to a judge, who uses it to issue the divorce decree.
- Second, if the spouses do not agree, it then goes to court. The court decides upon an equitable distribution.
- Third, equitable distribution applies only to property, assets, or income gained during the marriage, by either partner. It does not apply to any property, assets, or income gained before the marriage. This latter type of property is considered the property of the spouse who acquired it, not of the couple together.
- Fourth, the court uses multiple factors to determine equitable division. These factors can include, but are not limited to, each party’s earning ability, education and future and past careers of both parties, heath and age of each partner, the anticipated needs of children, one spouse’s role as homemaker, conduct during the marriage, each spouse’s assets, and the duration of the marriage.
- Fifth, the courts will sometimes make an exception in the equitable division of property, generally if a judge sees either financial or emotional misconduct in the marriage.