How are assets divided in a Massachusetts divorce?

Sheila (Guest) on Thursday, November 01 2012, 09:56 AM
My husband and I were engaged when I was in business school in Boston. As a graduation gift my parents gave me $50K to start my own company. Shortly after graduation we married, bought a home, and started a family. I never started my business and the money has been in a savings account. Now we are getting divorced and he thinks he is entitled to half of this asset. I have a card from my parents saying how proud they are of me and that they are gifting me the money to pursue my dreams of having my own company. Will my husband be awarded half this asset?
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    Replied by Attorney Joseph Leone on Thursday, November 01 2012, 09:59 AM · Hide · #1
    Is the money in a joint account? If in an individual account, do you have any other accounts that are not joint? Have you used any portion of the money during the marriage, even if you “borrowed” from it and later “paid it back”? How long have you been married? Who put down the deposit to buy the home and how much was put down? Did you have loans for business school and, if so, who paid them back?

    I would need more information to properly analyze your situation and there are no guarantees as to what a Judge would say. Probate and Family Court Judges enjoy a wide latitude of discretion. However, if the money was set aside in a separate account and was never touched, you could probably convince a Judge that your husband never relied on it and that there was always an understanding that the money was yours for a business start-up. Conversely, if the money has been sitting there for a significant period of time and it has been understood by you and your husband that it was unlikely that you would ever start that business, then your husband may argue successfully that he did rely on someday being able to use it for something else (e.g., your retirement). It would help your case if the money was in an individual account with only your name on it, just as it would hurt your case if the money was in a joint account.
    It might help if I gave you two examples:

    If you have been married for 20 years; the money has been in a joint account; you never took steps to start your business; your husband says that you and he had conversations about how you would spend the money in retirement, etc., then the Court may very well award your husband half of the asset.

    If you have been married 6 years; the money is in an individual account with only your name; you still plan to use it to start your business and you can show the Court that there was never a reliance to use it otherwise, then it is very likely that the Court will let you keep the asset.

    I would need additional information specific to your case to give a proper analysis.
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