In a divorce, many different processes take place. One of the most integral parts of a divorce is property division. The Massachusetts divorce law identifies two types of properties: separate and marital property. Separate property constitutes those assets, investments, etc., that you and your spouse had before your marriage. Marital property refers to those which you acquire during the course of the marriage.
No matter whose name is there on the title of the property, it does not control who the asset goes to. The court follows an equitable or community property method of division. Understanding what marital property law consists of is important for a divorce so that you make no mistakes.
What is considered marital property?
In simple words, marital property is any property that you and your spouse in Massachusetts acquire during the court of your marriage. Therefore, it means that any property that you or your spouse buy after your marriage and before your divorce comes under the category of marital property. Some common examples of a marital home may include the following:
- Your home
- Bank accounts
- Business assets
- Household items
- Life insurance policies
- Lottery winnings
The title of the property does not matter. For example, you may buy a piece of land and register it in your name. However, that alone does spare it from being marital property. Even if your spouse does not want anything to do with it, the law will consider it during divorce property division.
Which factors affect the division process?
Massachusetts follows the equitable distribution process. Therefore, the court will divide your marital property fairly depending on specific factors. They are:
- The length of your marriage.
- Income of either spouse.
- The loss of inheritance or property rights.
- The loss of health insurance benefits.
- Contributions made by either spouse into the marriage.
- Whether any domestic payments like child support have been imposed.
- Tax consequences.
- Future financial circumstances of each spouse.
- The potential cash value of the marital property.
- If children are involved.
Can separate property become marital property?
Yes. It is possible to convert a separate property of one spouse into a marital property in some circumstances.
For example, suppose spouse A had $50,000 in their separate bank account before the marriage. They entered the marriage with the same amount in the account but then moved it to a joint account that they have with their spouse B. This way, the property gets “mingled” and becomes marital property. Now, both spouses have equal rights over the $50,000 amount.
If you are going through a divorce and need assistance with property division, do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney.