Property Division Lawyers
When you and your spouse have to divide property as part of a divorce, it can be a stressful and emotional experience. You may be concerned about where you will live and whether you can maintain a safe and comfortable home for your children. These are very important concerns and we know that you are likely to have these and more on your mind when you are facing property division in your divorce. We will answer all of your questions honestly and keep your best interests at heart. We know that your property is important to you and we know that you want what’s best for your family.
Our attorneys have extensive experience with property division in all types of divorce cases. No matter how much or how little property you and your spouse own, we have the knowledge and intimate familiarity with property division and equitable distribution laws in Massachusetts.
Division of The Marital Estate
Generally speaking, everything that you and your spouse own during the marriage is considered marital property and part of the marital estate. There are several exceptions and our lawyers can meet with you to discuss your marital estate if you have any questions about what qualifies as divisible property and what does not. We know that your property and assets are important to you. We will fight for your right to maintain your standard of living and we will always have your best interests at heart.
Property Division and Asset Protection
The Massachusetts divorce laws provide judges with broad discretion to “equitably” divide marital assets. Specifically, Massachusetts General Laws c. 208 § 34 provides in relevant part that “the court may assign to either husband or wife all or any part of the estate of the other….” Unlike other provisions of a divorce judgment that are typically subject to future modification, such as alimony or child support, in most cases property division will not be subject to future modification. Thus, property division is permanent in most instances. As such, the importance of an experienced Massachusetts divorce lawyer who is skilled in the area of property division is critical.
What Property is Subject to Division?
To determine what property is subject to division you must determine what property is included in the “marital estate.” Most people are surprised to learn that Massachusetts property division laws do not limit the marital estate to property acquired during the marriage. It is well settled that the marital estate includes all property no matter how and when it was acquired. Thus, property that was acquired prior to the marriage is included as part of the marital estate and subject to division. When one thinks of marital property they typically think of items such as real estate, household belongings and other personal property, however the marital estate is not limited to these items. For example, gifted or inherited assets, stock options, business interests, investment accounts, time shares and income tax refunds are all assets included in the marital estate. In addition, the right to future income that was accrued during the marriage such as pensions, annuities, retirement benefits, and qualifying military retirement benefits may all be included in the marital estate and subject to division.
With such expansive property division laws it is easy to recognize the complexity involved in dividing marital property. It is critical that you retain a Massachusetts divorce attorney that has the expertise to protect your assets. Conversely, if you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets then it is imperative that you hire a Massachusetts divorce lawyer that will hunt down, pursue and uncover these concealed assets. We have the skill and experience to root out and discover hidden assets.
Division of Property in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts property division laws provide that the court must consider a set of statutorily imposed factors when dividing the marital estate. The factors are designed to operate under the basic tenant that marriage is a “partnership.” The marital partnership is not one based solely on the economic contributions of each party. Noneconomic contributions such as homemaking and childrearing are considered valid and significant contributions to the marital partnership. Although it is important to understand that an equitable division of assets is not always an equal division. The mandatory factors imposed by Massachusetts General Laws c. 208 § 34 are as follows:
- Length of Marriage
- Conduct of the Parties During the Marriage
- Age of the Parties
- Health of the Parties
- Station of the Parties
- Occupations of the Parties
- Amount and Source of Income of the Parties
- Vocational Skills of Each Party
- Employability of Each Party
- Estate of Each Party
- Liabilities and Needs of Each Party
- Opportunity of Each Party for Future Acquisition of Capital Assets and Income
- Present and Future Needs of the Dependent Children of the Marriage
Each factor requires its own in-depth analysis and examination. To protect your assets or to obtain an equitable share of the marital estate requires a Massachusetts divorce lawyer who understands the intricacies of the property division laws.
If you have further questions or concerns regarding a property division in your divorce, do not hesitate to contact us with questions. We have the experience and legal knowledge you need to get the results you desire.