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Factors for Deciding Alimony and Equitable Division of Assets

Each state or territory has its own law on dividing property at the time of a divorce. Nonetheless, it may be helpful for you to review the factors which would be considered by a Massachusetts judge in a divorce case under our "equitable distribution" laws, set out below.

Please understand that each judge has the power to weigh each factor as the judge deems appropriate. A few judges give equal weight to each factor. Other judges give financial contribution more weight in one case; and in another case give conduct more weight. As lawyers, we try to understand what each judge is likely to do with the facts in your case, based upon the law of your jurisdiction.

Also, we have requested that you provide us with a written narrative of your relationship with your spouse. You will notice that much of what you provide will "fit" under one of the following factors.

Under Massachusetts law, at the time of divorce, the court may make a judgment for either of the parties to pay alimony to the other. In addition to or instead of a judgment to pay alimony, the court may assign to either husband or wife all or any part of the estate of the other, including but not limited to, all vested and non vested benefits, rights and funds accrued during the marriage and which shall include, but not be limited to, retirement benefits, military retirement benefits if qualified under and to the extent provided by federal law, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation and insurance.

The marital estate may also be deemed to include such other things as property in which you have a vested interest, even though it is held in trust or has been inherited or might be inherited. The fact that trust or inherited property is included in the marital estate does not necessarily mean that your spouse will actually get some part of those assets. Depending on an infinite number of facts, trust or inherited property could stay with you or your spouse, with or without any set off by other assets

In determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be paid, or in fixing the nature and value of the property, if any, to be assigned, the judges in the Massachusetts divorce courts MUST consider the following sixteen factors:

  1. Length of marriage
  2. Conduct of the parties during marriage
  3. Age of the parties
  4. Health of the parties
  5. Station of the parties
  6. Occupation of the parties
  7. Amount of income of the parties
  8. Sources of income of the parties
  9. Vocational skills of the parties
  10. Employability of the parties
  11. Estate of the parties
  12. Liabilities of the parties
  13. Needs of the parties
  14. Opportunity of the parties to acquire future capital assets
  15. Opportunity of the parties to acquire future income
  16. The present and future needs of dependent children of the marriage

Additional Factors in the Alimony Equation

Under Massachusetts Law the judge MAY, and as a matter of practice usually does, consider the following additional factors:

  1. Contribution of the parties in the acquisition of their respective estates
  2. Contribution of the parties in the preservation of their respective estates
  3. Contribution of the parties in the appreciation in value of their respective estates
  4. Contribution of each of the parties as a homemaker to the family unit.
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