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How is marital property divided in Massachusetts?

Those going through a divorce likely have many questions about how the process will work. Family law is governed by state law, so the exact process will vary depending on the state. In Massachusetts, state law requires divorcing couples divide marital property equitably. It is important to note that equitable does not always mean equal. Instead, the court is looking to make sure the split is as fair as possible for the given situation.

What does “equitable division” mean?

If a divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement on their own, the court will help divide the marital assets. The court will consider a number of factors when making its determination. These can include the age and health of each spouse as well as their needs and sources of income. The court will likely also look into the length of the marriage. Massachusetts state law also allows the court to take spousal misconduct into consideration when making its determination. This is not true in all states.

Do I have to go to court?

In some cases, the split may be fairly amicable, or the couple may otherwise choose to move forward with a more private divorce. In these situations, couples may consider mediation instead of litigation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that can provide a viable alternative to litigation and is discussed in more detail in our previous post, available here.

Even those who choose litigation may settle before going to court. The actual pathway taken will vary depending on the details of the divorce and the wishes of both parties.