Although a divorce is an opportunity for individuals to find new beginnings in their lives, they often require sacrifice and compromise on the part of both parties. Some couples choose to mediate their divorces, while others use the courts to litigate the ends of their marriages. No matter how a Massachusetts couple decides to bring about a divorce, the parties must address certain important issues, one of which is how to settle the division of their property.
Any property owned by both parties or property that is considered marital property is subject to division during a divorce. Massachusetts follows the principles of equitable division for divorce-related property matters, which means that the courts seek to find a fair resolution to property division matters. However, when individuals own property separate and apart from their soon-to-be exes, that property will be considered separate property and will not be involved in the property division process.
That is because separate property is truly that: separate. It is owned exclusively by one of the parties and has not been comingled or used by the other spouse in a way that transforms it into marital property. Separate property can be property that was acquired before a marriage occurred or property that was acquired after the marriage through gift or inheritance.
Separate property is retained by its owner when a divorce is finalized. During the property division process, couples may disagree over how items of property should be classified. When property is truly separate, however, it is kept out of the property division process.