Massachusetts follows equitable distribution laws, which means that during a divorce, a couple’s marital property divides based on a standard of fairness. The courts classify all property and assets acquired during a marriage as belonging to the community. When dissolving the marriage, two departing spouses may need to decide who keeps which property. 

Many individuals, however, mistakenly believe that the law entitles each spouse to “half” of the assets. Under certain circumstances, property such as cash could divide fairly by splitting it 50/50 between the two spouses. If one spouse contributed a greater and substantial amount of cash during the marriage, however, a divorce court judge may decide on fairness. 

Dividing cash in bank accounts 

The factors a judge may use to determine how to divide idle cash fairly include each spouse’s personal income, benefits and bonuses. Money earned during the course of a marriage belongs to the community; dividing it through a divorce requires a consideration of fairness. A spouse who did not earn any income, but enabled a working spouse to continue generating income for the household may receive a fair share. 

The exception to equitable distribution is when a spouse has received property or assets as a gift or an inheritance. If an individual received cash as an inheritance and purchased property with it, the asset generally belongs to that spouse separately. Massachusetts divorce laws may not entitle a soon-to-be-ex-spouse to receive a fair portion of separate property. 

Dividing a business 

When a married couple starts a business together, it may go through a complex division process during a divorce. Much like a business partnership, one spouse may need to buy out the other for her or his fair market value, as reported by Forbes magazine. 

Dividing a business during a divorce procedure requires careful consideration of its future. A business started before a marriage or with a spouse’s separate funds typically classifies as an undividable separate property that will remain with the original owner or founder. A spouse who helped manage or contribute to the growth of a business, however, may request his or her fair share during the divorce proceedings.