Massachusetts divides marital property based on an equitable division basis. If the parties cannot agree to an equitable division of the marital assets, the court will divide the property not on a 50/50 split, but based on what is fair. This equitable division is governed under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208 sections 1A and 34. Under the statutes provisions, when deciding what is a fair division of marital property, the courts may consider several factors: length of the marriage, conduct of the parties during the marriage, age and health of the parties, station of life, occupation, sources and amount of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of both parties, and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income.
Pensions and Retirement accounts are considered marital property subject to equitable division. The court will typically accept the stated value of such assets if both parties agree on said value. If there is a dispute over the value, an accounting is typically conducted; each party may retain the service of an expert i.e. accountant, business appraiser, pension valuator, etc., to help the court determine the value.
If a couple seeks divorce post-retirement, where both spouses share in each other’s retirement or pension plan, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be completed. A QDRO is a written set of instructions on how the couple wants to divide retirement benefits including how much and when benefits are to be paid.
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