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If you and your spouse contemplate ending your Massachusetts marriage, one of your main concerns likely is how you will divide the property the two of you have accumulated during your marriage. Massachusetts is not one of the community property states that consider all marital property to be owned by both spouses jointly in a 50-50 manner. Rather, Massachusetts requires you to divide your property in a fair and equitable manner, which may or may not entail a 50-50 split between you.

Massachusetts law also differentiates between separate property that belongs to you and you alone and marital property that belongs to both you and your spouse. Your separate property includes the following:

  • Anything you owned prior to your marriage
  • Any bequests, inheritances or gifts you received during your marriage
  • Any judgment you received during your marriage as the result of a lawsuit in which your spouse was not a party

Factors to consider

As stated, your property settlement agreement must be a fair and equitable one. But what is equitable in one marriage may not be equitable in another. It all depends on the circumstances of your marriage. If you and your spouse cannot arrive at a mutually agreeable property division yourselves, the judge will take the following factors into consideration before making his or her award:

  • Your age and health status and those of your spouse
  • Your current salary and that of your spouse
  • Your job prospects and those of your spouse
  • Your needs and obligations and those of your spouse
  • The length of your marriage
  • Whether either of you committed spousal misconduct during the marriage

Only after considering these and any other pertinent factors can the judge award what (s)he believes to be a fair amount of marital property to each of you.