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Making Sense Of Complex Property Division In Divorce

Nearly every divorce must deal with the division of marital property. This process can create much of the conflict that happens during the divorce process, especially when you have complex assets to divide. The more you understand regarding the legal issues involved, however, the better equipped you are to approach asset division in a reasonable manner.

At Baskin Kershner & Thorp, LLC, our experienced attorneys believe firmly in educating our clients during the process so that they can make informed decisions at every step. Our lawyers have decades of combined legal experience and have handled many high net worth divorces, including complex assets.

Equitable Property Division In Massachusetts

Massachusetts is an equitable property state for dividing assets in a divorce. Unlike some states, Massachusetts law defines marital very broadly and includes assets acquired both before and during the marriage. The law states that the court should divide the marital property in a fair and equitable manner, which does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. The courts can consider a long list of factors when dividing assets, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity
  • Each spouse’s occupation
  • Each spouse’s health
  • Contributions to homemaking
  • Needs of dependent children

These are just a few examples of relevant factors. The court will also consider whether the couple has a prenuptial agreement and determine if one spouse should pay the other alimony on a temporary or long-term basis based on the division of property.

Assets That Are Complicated To Divide

Before the couple or the court can divide the marital property, they need to know how much each asset is worth. Sometimes this is simple, say with a checking account. You need only look at the bank statement. Other assets are much more complex to value and divide. Examples of complex assets include:

  • Retirement accounts and pensions
  • Stocks and other investments
  • Business interests and professional practices
  • Off-shore and overseas property
  • Interest in a trust as a beneficiary or settlor
  • Vacation homes and investment property
  • Digital assets, such as cryptocurrency and NFTs

Defining and valuating these properties may require the use of professionals, such as forensic accountants, business valuators, CPAs, financial planners and property appraisers. Our team has experience working with these professionals to come to a current value using court-approved methods.

Making The Transfer

Figuring out the value is only the first step. Some assets have special rules regarding how you go about dividing, liquidating or transferring title to another person. For example, if one of you is keeping the house, the other may need to transfer their interest in the title using a deed.

Many retirement accounts have special rules about how and when you can move money from those accounts. You may need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). You obtain this court order after your divorce is final to direct your retirement plan administrator to divide your account according to the divorce decree. Our attorneys can help you complete this step accurately and efficiently.

Allow Us To Review Your Assets

Our team is here to help you make sense of your divorce, including complicated asset division. Schedule an appointment to meet with one of our experienced attorneys to review your property. You can call our Boston office at 617-266-1820 or fill out our online contact form today.