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Massachusetts Divorce & Finances

UPDATED: March 4, 2020

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Dividing joint finances during a divorce can be an emotionally trying and confusing process. How will you divide property? What are the tax ramifications? Do you have estate planning issues to be settled? Will there be spousal support payments, and if so, how much will be owed and how long must it be paid? The following headings address laws specific to Massachusetts divorce and finances.

Massachusetts Property Division/Community Property/Debts:

Massachusetts is an �equitable distribution� state. Marital property will thus be distributed on terms considered to be fair. Note that �fair� does not necessarily mean equal. In the equitable distribution adjudication, the court will consider, among other things, the contributions of each spouse to the marital estate, the total value of the properties of the parties, the economic circumstances of each party, any misconduct that may have occurred, and the amount of spousal support awarded.

Massachusetts Spousal Support:

Spousal support is a regular amount of money that a court of law orders a person to pay to their partner after a divorce. Whenever the court issues a decree for the dissolution of marriage (a divorce), the court may also issue an order at that time that either the husband or wife pay support to the other spouse. Spousal support may only be ordered in Massachusetts if the court finds that it is necessary, but a divorce in itself does not create an automatic obligation for either spouse to support the other. Where the court does grant spousal support (usually called �alimony� in Massachusetts, or �maintenance�), it is done on a case-by-case basis and in consideration of many factors, including:

  1. The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance;
  2. The time and input of resources necessary for the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and sufficient education/training for that employment;
  3. The established subjective standard of living during the marriage;
  4. Marriage duration;
  5. Physical and emotional condition of the party seeking maintenance; and
  6. The ability of the prospective supporting spouse to meet his/her own needs while meeting those of the other spouse, and more.

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