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Divorce misconceptions surround asset, retirement fund division

Each marital split-up in Massachusetts is different, so what may work in one may not necessarily work in another. This combined with the fact that incorrect divorce information can easily be found online can make the divorce process difficult to undergo and figure out. Two particular misconceptions about how the divorce process works both have to do with property division.

The first misconception is that anything in a spouse's name belongs only to that spouse, not to the other party. However, in divorce, it really does not matter whose name happens to be on an asset. The court may still decide to divide the asset 50-50. In the same way, if one spouse racks up a lot of credit card debt, both parties will likely have to pay it. The judge will simply look at the big picture and equalize everything.

The second misconception deals with retirement. Even one spouse's retirement fund will likely have to be split. What complicates matters, however, is that all retirement accounts are treated differently. For instance, a pension is not treated in the same way as a 401k.

When it comes to the division of property in Massachusetts, two spouses may be able to negotiate how to divide their assets and debt, thus avoiding further court intrusion. The benefit of divorce negotiation is that it increases a couple's chances of achieving a mutually beneficial and satisfactory outcome. However, if they are unable to do this, a judge will ultimately decide for them how their assets and debts will be handled in their divorce.

Source:, "6 common misconceptions about divorce", Lewis I. Landerholm, July 10, 2017

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