Recently, a distressed client, I will call Casie, came to me. She feared for her future. Casie explained that her husband wanted a divorce and “claimed” he would “get” his lawful 50% of the house and her pension.
Casie described in her marital history valid reasons why it would not be fair for her husband to get a 50% share.
Massachusetts is an Equitable Division state. This means that a judge must first determine what is equitable (or fair) before dividing the property.
The reasons that Casie offered in support of her belief that a 50/50 split would be unfair were the type of reasons a Family Court Judge would consider in deciding how to divide the value of the family home and a pension.
In order to help a judge decide what is fair (equitable), the law provides a list of certain required considerations a judge is to consider in “fixing the nature and value of the property to be so assigned”* to each party. The required considerations are:
- the length of the marriage,
- the conduct of the parties during the marriage,
- the age of each party,
- the health of each party,
- the station of the parties,
- the occupation of each party,
- the amount and sources of income of each party,
- the vocational skills of each party,
- the employability of each party,
- the estate of the parties,
- the liabilities and needs of each of the parties,
- the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income, and
- the amount and duration of alimony, if any, awarded.
In addition, the law says the judge may in “fixing the nature and value of the property to be so assigned” to each party, consider the following:
- 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 value of their respective estates, and
- the contribution of each of the parties as a homemaker to the family unit.
In reality, judges consider these three factors along with the 13 listed above.
So, the 50/50 rule does not apply in Massachusetts, and the Rule of Equitable Division provides for the consideration of many marital factors before a division is made.
*You can read the actual law by Googling Mass.provides Gen Law C.208, Sec.34
©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos