How property owned before marriage is impacted by divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to dividing property. In Massachusetts, the division of property follows the principle of “equitable distribution.” This means the court aims to divide property fairly but not necessarily equally.

Several factors determine how real estate owned before marriage is treated during divorce proceedings.

Real estate as separate property

Real estate owned before marriage is usually considered separate property. Separate property includes assets that one spouse owned before the marriage or received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage. In most cases, the court does not divide separate property between the spouses in a divorce. However, the situation can change if the real estate has been mixed with marital assets or if both spouses have significantly contributed to its upkeep and improvement.

For instance, if a spouse owned a house before the marriage but the couple used marital funds to pay the mortgage or made substantial renovations together, the court may view the property as part marital. This commingling of assets can make the property subject to division.

Factors influencing division

Several factors influence whether the court will divide real estate owned before marriage. These factors include what each spouse contributed to the property, how long the marriage lasted, and each spouse’s financial needs after the divorce. The court also considers the overall distribution of marital property. If one spouse keeps a house owned before marriage, the other spouse might receive a larger share of other marital assets to balance the division.

The court’s primary goal is to ensure that the division is fair to both parties. Each divorce case is unique, so the outcome can vary based on individual circumstances. Consulting with a professional experienced in dividing property during divorce can provide guidance tailored to a specific situation.

Understanding these principles that impact real estate holdings can help individuals navigate the complexities of property division during a divorce.