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Frequently Asked Questions: Divorce And Family Law

How Is Property Divided In A Divorce?

There is a statute in Massachusetts, General Laws Chapter 208, §34, which sets forth the factors the court “shall consider” and “may also consider” in dividing the marital estate. Included in these factors are the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties, the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income, the present and future needs of the dependent children of the marriage, the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in the value of their respective estates, and the contribution of each of the parties as a homemaker to the family unit. After hearing evidence on each of these factors and giving such weight to each of these factors as the court deems appropriate, the court is to fairly and equitably, and not necessarily equally, allocate the marital estate based on these factors. Notably, in Massachusetts, neither the premarital property nor inherited property is outside of the marital estate and exempt from allocation, although the courts do tend to give consideration, often substantial consideration, to whether a particular property is premarital or inherited property.

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