Many people rightfully believe that the division of property is one of the most difficult components of a divorce. Just as dividing marital assets is a breeding ground for conflict, so too is dividing up the marital debt. Debt is divided similarly to how property is divided. Under Massachusetts law, marital property must be equitably distributed.
This means that it must be divided in a way that is fair and just to both spouses. There are many factors that a judge will consider when doing so, and the liabilities or debts standing is one of these factors.
In general, property and debts are divided in a way that fairly distributes the net value of the marital estate. For example, if a couple has $100,000 in assets and $20,000 in debt, the net value of the estate would be $80,000.
This is the value that is subject to division. Many couples can work out a division of their property and debt by themselves. Some spouses cannot reach an agreement on their own and must leave it up to a judge to decide. If a judge decides, he or she will distribute the property and debts in a way that fairly divides the net value. What is considered fair is not necessarily equal. The division of property and debt can be something of a balancing act, where debt is distributed in a way that balances out the assets. It does not necessarily matter in whose name the debt is in, but the judge will take into consideration the source of the debt and the ability each spouse has to pay it when making his or her determination.
If you are going through a divorce and have questions or concerns about dividing your debt, you may want to consider working with an experienced Massachusetts divorce mediator. While leaving it up to a judge to decide may seem easier, maintaining control over the division of your property and debt can help you achieve an outcome you are happy with. Under the stress and pressure of divorce litigation, spouses are sometimes inclined to give in to their spouse’s demands and may part with more property or take on more debt than would be considered fair. Working with a divorce mediator as an alternative to litigation can help you reach an agreement over this very important part of your divorce.
If you have questions about dividing your debt in your divorce, contact Mediation Advantage Services for expert help. Experienced in divorce mediation, Law Office of Polly Tatum can help you efficiently mediate your divorce amicably with your spouse, ensuring you achieve an outcome that protects your financial interests. Based in historic Worcester, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson. Call our office at (508) 466-4734, fill out our online form, or email us at [email protected] today to schedule your Complimentary Mediation Success Planning Session. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free guide for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.