The State of Massachusetts is an “equitable distribution” state. This means all of the assets of the marriage will be deemed marital assets, no matter whose name happens to be associated with any particular asset. Equitable distribution does not mean an equal division of assets. In court, the judge will review 13 different factors in order to divide assets. In mediation the discussion will be started with an effort to achieve a 50/50 division, but how this division takes place can vary widely.
These issues are not black and white; every case is unique. As an example, if one party in the marriage was a gambler and had spent a large portion of the marital assets in this manner, this can impact the final agreement about division of assets. The family home may be sold and the profits divided, or one party may buy off the other’s interests, as one example. The two main assets in a marriage are frequently the family home and retirement benefits. Pets are another issue that can be problematical, as our pets are members of our family, and both parties may want the family dog or cat, particularly with marriages without children, as these pets are loved deeply. All of the sentimental assets of the marriage must be divided equitably, and this process can vary widely in the final agreement reached through the mediation process. You can read more about mediation in Massachusetts and the division of assets the e-book issued by Mediation Advantage Services, Divorce and Mediation in Massachusetts.