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Legal Guidance During Property Division Proceedings
One of the most difficult aspects of the process is the division of their marital estate. Each spouse may feel entitled to a certain share of assets based on their contributions to the marriage, but it is common for couples not to see eye to eye. Indeed, after years of sharing bank accounts, real estate and family gifts, the task of ensuring an equitable division of property can be daunting.
The attorneys at Richard C. Bardi & Associates LLC have decades of experience working in property division — from simple cases to complex cases involving businesses and large assets. With offices in Boston, we serve throughout Massachusetts. Our lawyers understand what’s at stake during such proceedings, and they stand prepared to offer sure-handed guidance at every step of the process.
In Massachusetts, all of the couple’s assets are included in the marital estate. Assets that either spouse owned prior to entering the marriage — such as real estate holdings or financial accounts with substantial balances — may be considered separate property. Among other factors, the nature of the assets, how and when they were acquired, and the length of the marriage can impact whether they will be subject to division.
Gifts and inheritances received by one spouse prior to the marriage may constitute separate property, which means they may be exempt from division or subject to division on a less than 50 percent basis. If, however, inherited or premarital monies or assets are “interwoven into the fabric of the marriage,” they likely will be subject to division in the divorce — even if they were bequeathed solely to you, or even if you paid for the asset and its maintenance from a separate bank account.
It’s easy to see how such matters can quickly become contentious.
How The Process Works: Equitable, But Not Equal
In many cases, spouses can come to an agreement with regard to splitting up their holdings. Mediation, arbitration and conciliation are alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods that allow couples to decide for themselves who will get what.
When spouses are unable to reach an amenable resolution on their own, though, the decision falls to the court. In making this determination, the court employs the equitable division standard. This principle does not mandate that couples’ shared assets should be divided equally. Rather, it dictates that any marital property is to be divided fairly — and the courts get to decide what, exactly, is fair.
Numerous factors will be considered. These include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s age and health, their current jobs or future employment opportunities, any income sources, and all needs and obligations. Often, values are assigned to the couples’ assets and then they are divided between them in a way that makes the most financial sense for each spouse.
Representing Your Interests
The longer the property division process is drawn out, the longer families have to wait before moving forward with their lives. This is why it’s important to work with an attorney who understands the finer points of premarital property, inheritance, trusts and wages. It’s the only way to be assured of a worry-free resolution.
Our lawyers can help. Friendly but forthright, our preferred option is to negotiate a fair settlement between you and your spouse. When that is not possible, we seek redress with the court, knowing that our trial aptitude will aptly serve you.