Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

What should I expect from my property division settlement?

Property division can be one of the most challenging aspects of any divorce, so understanding it can become extremely important. There are many different types of property that may need to be divided during the course of marriage dissolution, including the marital home or other real estate, retirement accounts, investments, home furnishings, cars, and even a family business. With so much at stake, knowing what to expect from the property division process can be crucial.

During the property division process, both marital property and debts are divided. In general, only marital property is divided, so it is important for a divorcing couple to be familiar with the two types of property and how they are determined. Marital property is generally considered property acquired during a marriage, while separate property is property the spouses possessed prior to a marriage or received as a gift or by inheritance during the course of marriage. Separate property is not subject to division. Although separate property may be kept separate from property division, if it has been commingled with marital property, then it becomes subject to division.

In Massachusetts, equitable property division rules are followed, which provides that the family law judge will consider a property division settlement that is fair rather than one that is an even split. This determination is based on a variety of factors in hopes of reaching an outcome that is fair to the parties involved. In some instances, for example, a spouse who has primary custody of a couple's children may be awarded the family home to raise the children in.

Property division can be a challenging aspect of the marriage dissolution process for divorcing spouses during a period of upheaval. The more familiarity a divorcing couple has with the process, and the more they are able to agree amongst themselves, the more likely it is that this challenging process will play out smoothly and favorably.

Source: FindLaw, "Divorce Property Division FAQ," accessed May 8, 2018

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

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