Many people fail to realize divorce requires more than simply signing a few documents. If you’re divorcing in Massachusetts, don’t be blindsided by the many decisions you’re about to face regarding the division of your marital property.
Not all property is valued or taxed in the same way; therefore, the process can be long and confusing without the help of a knowledgeable attorney at your side. It’s important to consider that even though different financial accounts are valued at the same amount, the account owner may receive different withdraw amounts. This is because withdrawals will not be taxed in the same way from a money market, for example, as other accounts would be.
The division of retirement accounts can be particularly daunting. There are currently no tax codes or other regulations in place regarding IRA accounts. This has allowed courts to permit IRAs to be divided between divorcing couples.
Regarding real estate property, if one spouse is granted full control of the marital home, for example, or vacation properties, then he or she is usually expected to pay taxes on those properties as well.
Debt is another matter you will need to be well-informed about when dividing property. No matter who is awarded the property, debt owed is still the responsibility of both parties, if the property was jointly owned. This means in the event the awarded party cannot fulfill payment obligations, the bank or other entity holding the debt will expect the second named party to fulfill payment obligations.
If you’re like most families, you have a joint cellphone account which may provide access to one another’s email and online storage accounts. Many couples forget to consider their online accounts when discussing property division. If the accounts remain attached when divorce proceedings begin, it’s crucial to take into consideration who has access to personal information. You may unwittingly be giving your spouse insight into your legal actions if they can access your email, calendar, or location.
Protect your privacy by changing passwords, and ensuring that smart devices, such as cellphones, tablets, or laptops, are never left unlocked where others might have access.
Have a pet? In Massachusetts, what happens to the family pet will be determined in the property division phase of the divorce process. Many view their pets like family; however, the state has a different view. When a couple cannot agree on who the pet should go to, a judge will make that decision.
Finally, it’s crucial to account for the potential standard of living changes when going through a divorce. Access to funds and property will likely change, causing the current living standards to be altered.
To avoid being blindsided during divorce property division proceedings, Massachusetts couples are advised to seek guidance by consulting with an attorney in their area. We can help you determine potential property division issues you may face and how to prepare for this stage of divorce.