Massachusetts law states that anything gained or earned during a marriage is subject to division during the divorce process. It doesn't matter who earned it. It doesn't matter whose name it is under. It all counts as marital property and is subject to division. The courts may also consider premarital assets as joint property if the marriage was more than 20 years in duration or if the parties commingled their premarital and postmarital property, like bank accounts.
However, the division of marital property is not as simple as splitting everything down the middle. There are many factors that the parties should consider (and that the court will look at). For example, what if both spouses worked for the majority of the marriage, but one was recently laid off? What if one spouse never worked outside of the home and is completely dependent on the spouse earning the income? What if the couple's home has a mortgage that is underwater? What if one party will likely inherit substantial assets in the future from their parents?
These can be tricky questions without simple solutions. At the Law Office of Leila J. Wons, our Westborough divorce lawyer works with clients to reach a solution that takes past contributions, current situation and future earnings and commitments into account.
Shrewsbury Property Division Lawyer
Asset division begins with a complete financial discovery. It is not uncommon for people to forget about an asset (heirloom jewelry or artwork) or be uncertain of an asset's value, such as a vacation timeshare or antiques. In some instances, one party may have hidden assets that must be discovered and appropriately appraised.
At our law firm, we work very hard to ensure that the financial discovery is complete and that all assets are accounted for before the division calculations begin. It is critical to include all debts during the financial discovery. Credit card balances and loans are also subject to division, and it is important to ensure that this debt was incurred for the benefit of the marriage, and not due to infidelity or business expenses.
The court requires that property division occur, but it is required to be equitable — not equal. A couple with unequal earning power may have an unequal financial split. Perhaps the one who can afford the mortgage payment keeps the home, even if the mortgage is underwater. Or perhaps one parent agrees to pay for college for a high school senior who will graduate soon.
The assets that our attorney will help you divide include:
- Home, vacation property and other real estate
- Retirement plans such as 401(k), IRAs, Keoghs and pensions
- Stocks, bonds, savings accounts and other financial assets
- Vehicles, boats and motorcycles
- Small business or sole proprietorship
- Other valuable household items, including furniture, electronics, jewelry and furs
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We can help with any family law issue — from alimony to paternity. Please call 508-986-9406 or send our lawyer an e-mail to schedule an initial appointment.