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What equitable distribution means for your property in a divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2021 | Asset Division |

Trying to look to the future during a divorce can make the discomfort of the moment more tolerable. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement with your spouse, it can be hard to reliably predict what will happen during divorce proceedings.

The judge presiding over your case will have the ultimate say in all of the major decisions, which makes it nearly impossible to predict what property and obligations you will have when the court finalizes your divorce.

The judge tasked with splitting up your property will have to apply Massachusetts state law when making those decisions. Since the state uses an equitable distribution standard, learning about equitable distribution can help you establish reasonable expectations for the division of your property.

The courts want to fairly split marital assets and debts

Although equitable looks like the word equal, the goal is not a 50/50 split of your property but rather solutions that are fair. The courts can look at your marital property and the circumstances of your marriage to try to find a solution that is reasonable and appropriate.

Fairness might involve one spouse receiving more property if they have health issues or lower earning potential. It might also involve the court compensating someone for years of unpaid work in the form of raising the family’s children or maintaining the household. A judge will consider everything from the length of the marriage to the earning potential of each spouse when trying to find the best way to split up your property.

Some assets might not get divided

The income that you earn while married and anything you purchase with that income is marital property. Items that you owned before marriage, inheritances and even gifts might be your separate property that your spouse can’t claim in a divorce. You will have to look closely at your financial circumstances to determine what property is marital and what property is separate.

Certain property is easier to divide than other assets. Judges might order the sale and division of property or use the value of one asset to even out the value of something else. The amount of debt the household carries can also factor into the solution that the courts create.

While you may not be able to predict the exact outcome, you can expect a fair and reasonable division of your property in a Massachusetts divorce. That standard will even apply to complex assets, like retirement accounts.