The term "marital property" refers to all possessions and interests acquired by a couple during their marriage. Marital property becomes very important during divorce proceedings when spouses must divide the property and debt they own. A few states recognize the concept of community property, in which most everything is jointly owned and equally split between the parties. Massachusetts, however, is not one of those states.
Dividing Marital Property in Massachusetts
Massachusetts law requires the division of property in a divorce to be equitable. That means it must be fair though not necessarily equal. Spouses usually divide property by giving specific items to each spouse or by selling assets and apportioning the proceeds. If spouses are unable to reach an agreement without court involvement, an arbitrator or a judge will divide the property and debts in a way that is fair under the circumstances.
When dividing marital property, a court may consider each spouse's separate property - that which is owned by a spouse prior to marriage or acquired during marriage through a gift or inheritance. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify separate property, particularly if it's combined with marital property in an account or used to buy or improve marital property.
Massachusetts Marital Property Laws at a Glance
It's always a good idea to read the actual statute when conducting legal research. But, there's also value to reading an overview of the statute in plain English. In the following table you can find an overview of marital property laws in Massachusetts as well as links to relevant statutes.
Massachusetts General Laws, Part II, Title III, Chapter 208:
|Is Community Property Recognized?
|How is the Value of Property Determined?
If spouses can't agree on the value of certain property, they may need assistance from a financial professional such as an appraiser or a certified public accountant.
|What Factors does a Court Consider When Dividing Property?
Some factors a court may consider include the following:
- Age and health of each spouse;
- Job or future employability of each spouse;
- Needs and obligations of each spouse;
- Sources of income;
- Length of the marriage; and
- Spousal misconduct or other behavior by the spouses during the marriage.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Massachusetts Marital Property Laws: Related Resources
For additional information and resources related to this topic, please click on the links listed below.
Have Questions About Massachusetts Marital Property Laws? Ask an Attorney
If you're considering filing for divorce and want to know your rights as they relate to your marital property, it's often best to work with a divorce attorney before filing your first court papers. An attorney will ensure your interests are protected and provide the best possible outcome. Contact a local divorce attorney today.