Married for 22 years and contemplating divorce

Additional Info: My Husband and I have been married for 22 years. I am contemplating divorce. He says if I leave he’s keeping every thing including the house. Can he really do that?

Attorney Answer:

In long term marriages, typically speaking the Court’s intent is to equalize the parties.

While there are a number of factors the Court will consider under the Massachusetts Divorce Statute including the length of the marriage and each party’s respective contribution to the marital estate, as a general starting point in a long term marriage the Court will look to equalize each person and divide the marital estate accordingly. The reason for this philosophy is that while one party may have earned significantly more than the other over the course of the marriage, usually the lower earning spouse’s contributions involved caring for the children and running the household. The Court recognizes such contribution as significant for purposes of dividing the marital estate.

In addition, if the house is considered a “Marital Asset” it too will be subject to division. If one party refuses to cooperate in dividing the property, whether by means of sale or transfer, the Court will rule on said issue and ultimately make the final determination.