Asset Division Attorneys in Salem, Massachusetts
Ending a marriage is an emotionally difficult process that also involves many legal considerations. One of the most complex aspects of divorce is property and asset division. Dividing property can cause a great deal of conflict between the parties as spouses often do not agree on who owns what and who should keep what.
In asset division, reaching out for the assistance of an attorney can make all the difference. At Lamb and Lamb, P.C., our asset division attorneys in Salem, Massachusetts, are experienced in dealing with valuation, negotiation, and litigation of issues related to property division.
Our law firm proudly serves individuals and families in Salem and the surrounding areas, including Lynnfield, Danvers, Beverly, and Peabody. Set up a consultation today.
What Is Equitable Distribution?
Like many other states, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts uses the principle of “equitable distribution” when dividing assets in a divorce. Contrary to popular belief, equitably means “fairly,” not “equally.” A 50/50 split, however, may be possible when ending a marriage in Massachusetts if dividing property in such a matter is considered “equitable.”
What Property Is Subject to Equitable Distribution?
The couple’s assets are divided into two categories upon a divorce: separate and marital.
Separate assets are any assets acquired by either spouse before the marriage. This category also typically includes inheritances and gifts, though there may be exceptions.
Marital assets are any assets acquired by the spouses during the marriage. A common example of marital property is the family home. No matter in whose name the home was purchased, it will most likely be categorized as “marital property” when the couple file for divorce.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the equitable distribution rule is applied to marital assets, which may include the family home, bank accounts, investment accounts, motor vehicles, furniture, 401(k) plans, and other assets.
The Equitable Distribution Process
When a spouse files for divorce in Massachusetts, the petitioner and the respondent must prepare and exchange financial statements that include complete information about their assets, income, expenses, and debts. The statement must also include the value of the assets.
With certain types of property—such as the family home and family business—the spouses may need the assistance of financial experts to ensure that the valuation is accurate. Unlike most other states, Massachusetts does not provide a set time for conducting the valuation of assets and debts in a divorce. Judges in Massachusetts will determine what is “fair” in terms of the valuation date in every individual case.
If a divorce goes to trial, the value of the assets is determined as of the trial date. However, when appropriate, a judge may allow a different valuation date (e.g., the date of filing for divorce). Keep in mind that it is not required to go to trial to divide assets in a divorce. Spouses may reach an agreement on how to divide their property without court intervention. In this case, spouses can choose the date for valuing their assets on their own.
At Lamb and Lamb, P.C., we assist divorcing couples with all aspects of asset division. Our asset division attorneys in Salem are here to help you navigate the equitable distribution process and ensure that you are treated fairly and that your interests are protected.
Factors Considered in Asset Division
During the equitable distribution process, judges must consider a number of factors when deciding how the couple’s assets should be divided. The factors that affect property division in Massachusetts may include:
The duration of the marriage
The spouses’ age and health
The parties’ conduct during the marriage
The amount/source of each spouse’s income
Each spouse’s employability and vocational skills
Each spouse’s opportunity to acquire assets in the future
Each spouse’s needs and liabilities
Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage/family
Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring and/or preserving the assets
Whether or not alimony is awarded in the divorce
Whether there are any children involved
Once the above-mentioned factors are taken into consideration, the judge can make a decision on how to divide marital assets in an equitable manner. The judge will also consider whether or not the couple signed any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that may affect asset division in the divorce.
Do You Really Need an Attorney if Your Assets Are Divided Equitably?
Many people mistakenly believe that there is no need to hire an attorney because courts divide assets equitably. Even though assets are divided equitably, it is still important to ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the divorce process. Your attorney will help you categorize and value your assets and ensure that you understand everything that happens during the equitable distribution process.
The law regarding equitable distribution in Massachusetts is complex and confusing. It’s important to contact an attorney who will use their knowledge and experience to advocate on your behalf. Our attorneys at Lamb and Lamb, P.C., work hard to help our clients reach a favorable agreement for asset division.
Asset Division Attorneys in Salem, Massachusetts
At Lamb and Lamb, P.C., we understand that asset division is one of the most contentious and complex aspects of divorce. That is why we are committed to helping Massachusetts families navigate this process successfully to ensure the best outcome possible. No matter how complex an asset division issue is, we can help. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.