Massachusetts is an “equitable distribution state”, which means that all marital property will be divided in an equitable fashion according to the court unless agreed to otherwise by the divorcing spouses.
Equitable can be defined as “what is fair, not necessarily equal”. It does not automatically mean that the marital property is divided 50-50. All property acquired during the marriage is considered “marital property”.
All property is divided into marital property (which means it is belongs to both spouses) and non-marital property (which means the property belongs to either you or your spouse alone). Generally, the following rules apply when categorizing property into “marital” or “non-marital property”.
First, if the asset or debt was acquired after the date the couple were married it is presumed to be a marital asset or debt. Wheras, a non-marital asset or debt is one that was acquired before the date of the marriage. It is also a non-marital asset if one spouse acquired the asset by means of a gift. Income from non-marital property is also considered non-marital property. Even if an asset or debt was acquired by your spouse individually, it is considered to be a marital asset or debt, if acquired during the marriage. This includes rights in pension and profit-sharing plans. Real estate that is held in both names is also considered marital property.