Massachusetts General Laws chapter 208 section 34 (MGL c. 208 § 34) provides for the division of property. Marriage is a partnership and with the division of the partnership, there must be an equitable division of property. There are mandatory and discretionary factors for dividing property. While it may seem that a one size fits all approach could work (take everything and divide it in half), each case must be looked at individually to determine the most equitable division. Innovative approaches can be taken, such as that one spouse gets certain items of property outright, rather than needing to divide any assets. However, a retirement account is likely to be divided unless there are sufficient assets to balance one spouse’s retention of the account.
The statute states, “the court may assign to either husband or wife all or any part of the estate of the other, including but not limited to, all vested and nonvested benefits, rights and funds accrued during the marriage and which shall include, but not be limited to, retirement benefits, military retirement benefits if qualified under and to the extent provided by federal law, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation and insurance.”