Like it or not, your marital assets will get divided in a Massachusetts divorce. Under the state’s equitable distribution rules, you and your spouse will split your marital property in a manner that, given your circumstances and individual needs, is fair to both of you. That said, you still have the power to protect certain assets; this comes down to identifying those that matter most to you and those you would be willing to forego.
Planning For Divorce Ahead Of Time
Some couples have the foresight to draft an agreement either before (prenuptial) or after (postnuptial) their wedding that details how they would divide their assets in the event of divorce. If you and your spouse have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, this document will serve as your roadmap to the property division process. That is, unless the court deems it invalid.
Some reasons a prenup or postnup could get invalidated include:
- The agreement includes provisions about matters it cannot address (i.e., child custody and child support)
- The agreement wasn’t executed in writing
- The agreement was signed under force or duress
If you and your spouse don’t have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you must consider which assets you want to protect most. Receiving these assets as part of your divorce settlement may require you to sacrifice other assets. For example, if you have a pension, you may, like many people, want to hold onto it, since it contains funds crucial to your financial stability in retirement. If you want to emerge from divorce with it intact, you may need to give up some other asset (i.e., equity in your marital home).
The Alimony Factor
One other thing to consider is how much of your future assets could go toward supporting your spouse. If you are your household’s breadwinner, you will have to pay your spouse alimony. Usually, Massachusetts alimony payments last for a fixed duration, but having to pay it at all can come as a shock – especially for women. Many women now earn more than their husbands, and the prospect of supporting them after their divorce can seem unpalatable, if not unanticipated.
If you’re considering divorce, it’s crucial to enter the process knowing what assets you want to protect – and what mechanisms you have in place to protect them. Working with an attentive attorney can help you ensure no assets get glossed over and that you have a custom strategy in place to safeguard those that are most meaningful.
The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.