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Difference Between Marital and Non-Marital Property

Many people assume that all property and assets that you accumulated before the marriage is automatically separate and therefore “non-marital” property.  As a logical extension of that, property and assets that are accumulated during the marriage is assumed to be “marital.”  Unfortunately in Massachusetts, that is not the case and that is not the law.

Absent a prenuptial agreement which would designate specifically pre-marital and marital assets, there is no such distinction in Massachusetts divorce law.  When parties divorce, we generally look at ALL assets of BOTH parties and divide them fairly.  Fairly, however, doesn’t not mean that ALL assets of BOTH parties are simply divided 50/50.

You might routinely hear divorce attorneys refer to marital assets even here in Massachusetts.  We might use that term to describe things that know are truly joint assets between the parties but it is not meant to be a legal definition of the term. If there are pre-marital assets that are in dispute, then they can also be called “marital.”

Remember, this distinction between marital and non-marital property is unique to each state’s laws.  This definition holds true in Massachusetts, but if you go to another state to get divorced, then their laws might be different.  Check with your lawyer if you have specific questions about what assets would be considered “marital” and “non-marital”.


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