How Is Property Split in Massachusetts Divorce?
States in the U.S. divide property by method of equitable distribution or community property (sometimes a combination). In Massachusetts, property is divided equitably. This means that all marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. Massachusetts follows what’s called an equitable distribution statute. That means that based on 20 or 25 factors, the judge will weigh the facts against the factors and determine what’s fair. Equitable doesn’t mean equal, but it means what’s fair based on those 20 or 25 factors. If you look on the website, you are going to see a worksheet called Who Gets What? and it outlines all the factors. Here’s a strategy and here’s how we work with our clients.
The factors start with:
- Length of the marriage
- Conduct of the parties during the marriage
- Age of the parties
What we ask our clients to do is tell us a story about your marriage under those 20 or 25 different headings. We know the law. You know the facts. When we put the facts with the law together, we have a compelling story as to how property should be divided. Understand, it’s kind of like the grocery store. You take all of your assets and all of your belongings—from bank accounts to retirement accounts to all your belongings, any stock, any pensions—and you put it in the grocery basket. All the debt goes on the bottom. You add up all the debt and take it from what the assets are and that’s basically a net total of your estate. Is it going to be split 50/50? That might be a starting point. No one ever said it would be done equally, but equitably. When you tell your story, we can help present it to the court and get you your fair share of the property division.