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Division of Assets in Bristol County
Advocating for Your Spousal and Property Interests in PLYMOUTH, New Bedford, Boston, Quincy, Hingham, Norfolk Counties
Property division is one of the most complex family legal disputes following separation. Especially if you have been married for a long time or have significant high-value assets in the marriage, the asset division process can be lengthy and contentious. The Law Offices of Rachel M. Matos can lend a professional hand and advocate for your spousal and property interests in your property division case.
Schedule a consultation online to discuss your legal options today.
Equitable Division in Massachusetts
Massachusetts law requires that the division of property in a divorce be equitable and fair, which may or may not have to be equal. Spouses may either reach a property division agreement on their own or in mediation, or they will have to proceed to trial for the judge to make a final decision.
There are a few key steps to preparing for equitable division – identifying the marital property up for division, assigning the value of each distributable asset, and actually dividing the property.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
Marital property refers to property that a couple acquired during the marriage, whereas separate property is property that an individual spouse owned prior to marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage. Under Massachusetts’ equitable distribution laws, courts can actually distribute both marital and separate property. However, it is often the case that a court awards separate property to the original owner.
After delineating the marital property and separate property, the spouses should assign a monetary value to each item of property, including antiques and artwork. It is best to work with an attorney on this process, as they can consult a financial analyst to evaluate retirement assets and other complex financial accounts. If spouses cannot reach an agreement on the value of their property, the court will assign the monetary values.
Dividing the Proceeds
Once values have been assigned to the property, spouses can proceed with division by assigning the items of property to each spouse. They might also decide to sell certain property and divide the proceeds instead. In some cases, spouses may agree to hold property together, such as if the property is an investment with potential for growth. Parents may also agree to keep the family home until their children are out of school.
If the couple cannot agree on how to divide their property and debts, a judge will make the decision based on each spouse’s:
- age, health, and station in life;
- occupation, vocational skills, and employability;
- amount and sources of income;
- liabilities and needs;
- contributions to the acquisition, preservation, or increase in value of their respective estates;
- contributions to the family unit as a homemaker;
- length of the marriage;
- opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets and income;
- estate and inheritances.
A judge may also consider the present and future needs of any dependent children who primarily reside with one parent, and they may also factor in any spouse’s fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Note that courts will be likely to consider marital misconduct that resulted in the dissipation of marital assets available for distribution (e.g., gambling without the other spouse’s consent).
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Asset division matters are not black-and-white. Certain property might be deemed distributable or individual, and the couple may decide to liquidate their property or even hold property together after the divorce. An experienced attorney can ensure that your spousal rights are being appropriately handled in your property division negotiation. Attorney Rachel M. Matos can assist you in every step of the process, from advocating for certain property to be held individually or up for distribution to deciding how to divide the proceeds.
Don’t relinquish your property without a legal professional to advocate for your interests. Schedule an initial consultation with the Law Offices of Rachel M. Matos online to discuss your case in more detail.