Massachusetts is a state where marital property is divided based on the principle of equitable distribution, which basically means a fair division. “Fair” is not always “equal,” however.
Equitable distribution may involve the spouses’ shared debts, and dividing debts and assets can be particularly complicated when one or both spouses own a business. If you are planning or going through a divorce that involves significant assets and debts, then work with a family law attorney with the knowledge and resources to ensure that all assets and debts are accounted for and properly valued.
As we discussed in a recent post, an unfair divorce settlement can affect a person’s finances well into retirement. It is important, then, to take a big-picture approach to property division.
For example, you may need to ask yourself whether keeping the family home makes long-term financial sense. And would the decision to keep the home be the right move in terms of child custody? In general, how will equitable distribution affect custody matters and other issues such as alimony?
Most married couples mingle their income and assets, as well as their debts. This mingling makes property division complicated, but depending on the circumstances, there may still be property that can be characterized as separate and thus not subject to division. Often property has to be thoroughly investigated to be characterized as separate.
Sometimes in the process of accounting for and valuing assets and debts, spouses have to consider the difficult decision of whether to file for bankruptcy protection. It is important in such cases to have legal counsel with experience in all of these matters.
To learn more about dividing marital asseats and debts in Massachusetts, please see Seder & Chandler’s Division of Debts overview. Our property division, family law and bankruptcy attorneys take a team-oriented approach to helping clients in Worcester, Westborough and throughout central Massachusetts.