Massachusetts Property Division Lawyer

Home /  Massachusetts Property Division Lawyer

Massachusetts Property Division Attorney

Massachusetts follows the popular “equitable division” approach to distributing property/money after divorce, which is governed by G.L. c. 208 sec. 34. The law’s goal is to distribute the property fairly, taking into account a number of factors bearing on the parties’ abilities to produce income and long-term financial prospects. Fault and gender were once significant considerations, but not anymore. The court now focuses on the economics and aims to keep the parties as close as possible to their standing of living during marriage. The larger the estate, and the greater one spouse’s financial dependence on the other, the more likely it is that there will be a long-term financial impact from the divorce, and the judge will consider that for division.

Property division is the component of divorce for which it is most important to have quality representation. Judges have broad discretion in determining what property is classified as “marital property” for the division and what is “fair” division; so a skilled, aggressive Massachusetts Property Division Lawyer can be a difference-maker in your financial standing when you walk away from the divorce.

Contact Massachusetts Property Division Lawyer Bill Farias for an Assessments at (508) 675-0464

Marital Property

To determine what property/money goes to whom, the judge must first determine what constitutes the “marital estate” – or marital property. In Massachusetts, the definition of marital property is broad and ever-expanding: it may include property acquired before marriage as well as during; and it also includes both tangible property such as houses and cars and intangible property, such as investments, portfolios, stock options, retirement, and timeshares.

Real Estate

The judge can rule that the property stays with the sole title holder, can assign it to the other party, or order that it be sold to a third party for the proceeds to be divided. If there are children involved, their living arrangements likely will impact the judge’s decision.

Retirement Plans

One of the more valuable assets in a marriage, they’re also subject to equitable division. IRA’s can be “rolled over” to the other party, and although social security benefits are technically part of the marital estate, judges may consider a party’s anticipated benefits when determining the division.

Premarital Assets

Again, even property acquired before marriage may be “marital property.” The more contribution there is to the property’s value by the “non-owner” during the marriage, the more likely it is that the judge will consider it marital property, and include it in the marital estate.

Gifts, Inheritance, Trusts:

If acquired during the marriage, they may be ordered transferred to the other spouse. Also, in certain circumstances, trust assets can be used to satisfy payment.

Advanced Degrees or Professional Licenses:

although not “property” subject to division, judges consider increased earnings potential in the division of property and alimony


unvested stock options may be included in the marital estate for the division. Judges consider whether the stock option was given for effort before or during the marriage.


judges can combine both parties’ debts and allocate the total debt equally; keep the respective debts with the responsible party, or do something in between.

Automatic Restraining Order

Under Supp. Prob. Ct. Rule 411, when one party files the complaint and the other gets notice, an automatic restraining order against both parties immediately goes into effect because it wouldn’t be fair once the divorce is filed, for the parties to manipulate resources for their financial benefit. Here are the restrictions:

  1. neither party can sell, transfer, hide … etc. property. The parties may use their resources for “reasonable expenses of living,” “ordinary and usual course of business … [or] investing,” and litigation and attorney’s fees. However, for other transactions, they need either a written agreement by both parties or a court order.
  2. neither party can incur further debt against the other party (e.g. credit line secured by marital residence)
  3. absent agreement or court order, neither party can change the beneficiary of any life insurance, pension, retirement.
  4. can’t cause the removal of other spouse or kids from existing medical, dental, life, auto, or disability insurance.

How the Judge Determines Division

Under G.L. c. 208 sec. 34, the judge has significant discretion in how to divide the property and considers a number of factors. The law is that there are some factors the judge must consider, and others the judge may consider (optional). However, many of them are overlapping and interrelated.

The judge must consider:

Length of the Marriage:

the longer the marriage, and the greater the financial dependence of one spouse on the other, the more likely it is that the judge will order property and money transferred from one to the other. Also, the judge may consider the spouses’ contribution to the value of the property during marriage.

Conduct of the Parties During Marriage:

Financial misconduct is likely to weigh heavily in the judge’s determination. Some examples are gambling, spending extended periods away from the home without producing income, stealing from a family business, and transferring assets in anticipation of divorce. In contrast, misconduct with little financial impact, such as adultery, matters little under the new equitable division laws. The courts focus on the finances.



whether health impacts income and ability to work


income, ability to meet needs, the potential for future earnings. If one parent sacrificed education and income to stay at home to tend to the children, the court is likely to take that into account.


employment, trusts, rental, investments, and other sources

Vocational skills:

earnings and future earnings potential


health, age, time out of work

Estate of Each Party:

property owned individually (again, even property acquired before marriage may be deemed “marital property.”)

Liabilities & Needs:

the court considers a source of liabilities: debt for medical reasons v. gambling
Opportunity for Future Acquisition of Capital Assets & Income: encompasses many of the factors above

Needs of Dependent Children of Marriage:

this is usually how custodial parent gets the home.

The judge may consider ( the judge has discretion whether to even consider these):

The contribution of Parties to Acquisition, Preservation, or Appreciation in Value of Respective Estates:

considering both economic and non-economic contributions, this is a factor the court uses to determine whether property acquired before marriage can be classified as “marital property.”

A contribution of Parties as Homemaker to Family Unit:

judge considers the financial impact of these non-economic contributions. If one parent sacrificed education/income to be a homemaker, the court may consider that.


Division of property for divorce is neither deductible by the payor nor taxable to the receiver as income.
Connection Between Property Division and Alimony

Although these are technically separate determinations that the judge makes, they’re interrelated. Alimony is an award by the court for support and maintenance from one spouse to the other. Absent an agreement by the parties, alimony merges with the divorce, and is, therefore, subject to modification in the future, at the request of either party, if there is a “material change in circumstance” (losing a job, illness affecting income). Property division, on the other hand, survives the judgment, and is not subject to modification: the judge’s decision on distribution is a final one. Although the judge makes a determination on each issue, the judge uses essentially the same factors to make both determinations, so for practical purposes, the property division affects the alimony and vice versa.

It’s important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you’re taking the right steps to protect yourself. Also, you need a skilled litigator to get you what you’re entitled to. Contact Massachusetts Property Division Lawyer Bill Farias for a CONSULTATION at (508) 675-0464 or submit the contact form on this page.

Asset Division: Real Estate, Retirement, Investment & Bank Accounts, Businesses, Debts, and General.

If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important to understand the complexities of dividing assets and debts. This can include everything from real estate and retirement accounts to investments, bank accounts, businesses, and debts. In this section, we’ve compiled educational material and resources to help you understand the different types of assets and debts that may need to be divided during divorce proceedings, as well as the legal and financial considerations involved. With this information, you can make informed decisions that prioritize your interests and help you move forward with confidence.

Articles Related to Property Division


How is property divided in a divorce?

There’s an “equitable distribution” of the marital assets in divorce, which essentially means the property must be divided fairly. This includes real estate, retirement accounts and other investments, cash, businesses, and everything else the parties own. Age, income, health, assets, and contributions to the marriage are some of the factors the court considers in division. The longer the marriage, and the more equal the contributions from the parties – including non-economic contributions like home-making and child-rearing – the more likely it is that the property will be divided equally.

What happens to retirement funds in a divorce?

I inherited property from my parents, is spouse entitled to inheritance?

Is an ex spouse entitled to pension?

What If My Spouse Is Hiding Money?

What If My Former Spouse Starts Living With Somebody – Do I Still Have to Pay Alimony?

Penalty for hiding assets in divorce?

Hidden assets in divorce are they discoverable?

Am I responsible for my domestic partner’s medical bills?


Video Related to Asset Division

Can I sell my house once my divorce is filed?

Farias Family Law, P.C. February 23, 2022 2:41 pm

I’ve been paying for the house on my own, do I get a credit in divorce?

Farias Family Law, P.C. February 16, 2022 3:27 pm

Is my overseas property considered for divorce?

Farias Family Law, P.C. August 20, 2021 2:44 pm

Does my ex still get half of my property even if she didn’t work?

Farias Family Law, P.C. May 26, 2021 12:26 pm

Is the house I owned before the marriage included in my divorce?

Farias Family Law, P.C. April 14, 2021 10:49 am

Can I trade the house for retirement and divorce?

Farias Family Law, P.C. February 5, 2021 3:28 pm

Is it worth keeping the house for the kids?

Farias Family Law, P.C. June 6, 2023 6:26 am


E Book Cover

Your Quick Guide To The Best Divorce In Massachusetts

Download A Free Copy Of Our EBook, “Your Quick Guide To The Best Divorce In Massachusetts: A Successful Start To
Your New Life” By Clicking On The Link Below.

Farias Family Law, P.c.

Contact Us Today