Who Gets the House in a Divorce Massachusetts?
Divorce can be a complex and emotionally draining process, and one of the most significant assets to consider is the family home. Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between spouses. Determining who gets the house in a divorce in Massachusetts involves various factors, including financial circumstances, contributions to the property, and the best interests of any children involved. In this article, we will explore the key considerations and frequently asked questions surrounding this topic.
Factors Considered in Property Division:
1. Marital Property: In Massachusetts, only marital property is subject to division during a divorce. Marital property includes all assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of how they are titled. However, assets acquired before the marriage or through inheritance or gift may be considered separate property and generally not subject to division.
2. Contributions to the Property: The court will consider each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to the family home. This includes both monetary contributions, such as mortgage payments or renovations, and non-monetary contributions, such as homemaking or childcare.
3. Financial Circumstances: The court will assess the financial situation of each spouse, including income, earning capacity, and potential for future acquisition of assets. The goal is to ensure a fair and reasonable division of property that considers the financial needs and abilities of both parties.
4. Child Custody and Support: If there are children involved, the court will prioritize their best interests. In some cases, the custodial parent may be awarded the family home to provide stability and continuity for the children. However, other factors, such as the ability to maintain the property, may also be considered.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What if the house was purchased before the marriage?
If the house was acquired prior to the marriage, it may be considered separate property and not subject to division. However, if marital funds were used to pay the mortgage or improve the property, the court may consider the contributions made during the marriage.
2. Can we decide who gets the house ourselves?
Yes, spouses can reach a mutually agreed-upon property division through negotiation or mediation. If both parties can agree on who gets the house, the court will generally accept their decision, as long as it is fair and reasonable.
3. What if both spouses want the house?
If both spouses want the house, the court may order a buyout or sale. A buyout occurs when one spouse purchases the other’s share of the property. If neither spouse can afford to buy out the other, the court may order the sale of the house and divide the proceeds accordingly.
4. What if I can’t afford to keep the house?
If one spouse cannot afford to maintain the family home, the court may award temporary or permanent possession to the other spouse, particularly if children are involved. However, this does not necessarily mean that the spouse retaining possession will also be awarded ownership.
5. Can the court consider fault when deciding property division?
In Massachusetts, fault is generally not considered when dividing property. The court focuses on equitable distribution based on the factors mentioned earlier. However, if one spouse wasted marital assets, such as through excessive gambling or infidelity, the court may consider this in determining property division.
Dividing the family home during a divorce can be a complex process in Massachusetts. The court considers various factors, including financial circumstances, contributions to the property, and the best interests of any children involved. While spouses can reach their own agreement on who gets the house, the court will step in if they cannot come to a resolution. Therefore, it is essential to seek professional guidance from an experienced family law attorney to navigate this process and ensure a fair and reasonable outcome for all parties involved.