When you obtain a divorce in Massachusetts, the law requires you and your spouse to divide your marital assets and debts between you in a manner that treats each of you fairly and equitably. But what exactly does fair and equitable mean? Unfortunately, this term carries no precise meaning. Instead, as FindLaw explains, courts must determine fairness and equitability based on each couple’s unique fact situation. In other words, what may be fair and equitable in your neighbors’ situation may not be in yours.
As you might expect, many factors go into determining whether or not your property settlement is a fair and equitable one, some which include the following:
- Does either you or your spouse have a medical condition that requires heavy medical expenses?
- How much do you and your spouse currently earn respectively?
- Does one of you need further education or training so as to increase your earning potential?
- How much did each of you contribute to the marriage, both financially and nonfinancially?
- How much separate property does each of you own?
- Did either of you gamble away marital assets or abuse the other during the marriage?
Remember, you need divide up only the marital property and debts you and your spouse accumulated during the marriage. What you brought into the marriage was and remains your separate property that belongs to you only. In addition, some things you received during the marriage, such as inheritances and gifts, likewise constitute your own separate property.
While you should not interpret this general educational information as legal advice, it can help you understand what factors you should consider when constructing a fair and equitable property settlement agreement during your divorce.