Dividing Property Fairly

Dividing Property Fairly

Distribution of Marital Assets

In Massachusetts, the courts view a marriage as an economic partnership. In general, any assets or debts held by either party are considered their spouse’s property as well. The court has the discretion to divide up even premarital assets, such as investments or a home. Similarly, the court will consider assets such as a spouse’s pension or business to be part of the marital estate. Consequently, it has the discretion to distribute any portion of these assets to either spouse.

Many people mistakenly believe that the court will automatically divide their assets and debts in half. Although this does occur in some cases, the courts are not required to do so. Judges are allowed to use a number of criteria in determining how they divide the marital estate, such as the length of the marriage, the economic contributions of each party, the contributions of a homemaker, the spouses’ respective incomes, their health, and their employability, as well as the needs of any children of the marriage.

Some important laws to know:

  • You are entitled to a share of the marital home, even if your name is not on the deed.
  • You are entitled to a share of your spouse’s pension, or alternative compensation because of it.
  • How you and your spouse divide up and classify your assets can have significant tax consequences.

An Expert in Massachusetts Divorce Law

The division of the marital estate is a complex area of the law. For example, many people are not aware that the division of a couple’s assets and debts is independent of any award for alimony. The court must make a separate determination for each. Alimony is designed to support a needy spouse in the future, while property distribution is based on the past contributions of each party to the marriage. Further, while child support is not considered taxable income for the recipient, alimony is. Mr. Heffernan has the expertise in these sophisticated areas of family law to ensure your long-term financial security.

Call the Law Office of Kevin R. Heffernan, Ltd., today to learn more about your rights and options. You can arrange to meet with Mr. Heffernan at his West Roxbury office any day of the week for a free initial consultation.


Courts view marriage as an economic partnership and are reluctant to hear arguments that one party has contributed more than the other unless there is “economic misconduct” involved. Most judges define such misconduct solely as excessive gambling losses. But one of Attorney Heffernan’s recent clients had a compelling case that he did in fact deserve a larger share of the couple’s assets. He had worked his entire life and despite his modest income, his wife had refused his requests that she work outside the home after their children had grown up.

Attorney Heffernan reviewed almost ten years’ worth of the wife’s credit card statements and discovered that she had spent lavishly without her husband’s knowledge and incurred tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the course of their marriage. By documenting her spending habits and arguing that her behavior was a form of economic misconduct, Attorney Heffernan was able to persuade the wife and her attorney that his client deserved a larger share of their assets and the matter was settled without a trial.


858 Washington Street, Suite 301
Dedham, MA 02026