Couples who are legally separating in Massachusetts must reach an agreement about the division of assets, including any real property, and debts before their divorce can be finalized. For high-asset individuals and marriages, divvying up assets can prove complicated. If you and/or your spouse own a vacation property, here’s a look into how property division laws in our state may be applied to divide the property during a divorce. If you have more questions, reach out to the Law Office of Heather M. Ward today for more information. 

Reaching an Agreement on Your Own

The first thing that you should know is that when you are getting divorced, you and your spouse maintain the right to reach a decision on your own about property division without the intervention of the court. This means that if you and your spouse both agree about what should become of the property–i.e. it should be sold, one of you will pay the other for full ownership of the property, you want to continue sharing the property, etc.–then you have a right to pursue this agreement. Our law firm strongly recommends attempting to reach an agreement through mediation and negotiation first; otherwise, litigation may be required, leaving a judge to make a decision with which you may not agree. 

Determining Whether the Vacation Property Is Separate or Marital Property

The first thing that should be considered when thinking about the division of a vacation property is whether or not the property is a separate or marital asset.  For example, if a vacation property was left to one spouse via a parent’s will, one would make the argument that the property would be “separate” from other marital property. While separate property may be considered by the court when making a determination regarding the division of marital property, separate property is not subject to division. In other words, unless the vacation home is marital property, it’s likely a moot issue: it will be maintained by the individual who owns it in a divorce. 

Factors Considered When Dividing Property During Divorce 

If the vacation property is marital property and the couple cannot reach an agreement about what should be done with the property, then the issue will go before a family law judge. If a court is tasked with a property division case, it will make a determination based on:

  • The separate property of each spouse;
  • The financial needs and obligations of each spouse;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The conduct of parties during the marriage, including economic misconduct; 
  • The sources of income of each spouse; and
  • The health and age of each party; and
  • The future financial opportunities of each spouse, including employability. 

Work with a Skilled Divorce and Property Division Lawyer

Understanding our state’s property division laws can be complicated – working with a skilled divorce and property division lawyer can add clarity. At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our lawyer can help by representing you throughout all negotiations and litigation and advocating for your best interests. Send us a message or call (617) 903-8955.