The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts has addressed the issue of whether the Family Court may divide Social Security benefits in a property distribution during divorce.
The equitable distribution of property, including debts, is an important aspect of a divorce case. In a Massachusetts divorce, the division of property must be fair and reasonable.
There are numerous factors that court may consider when assigning the marital estate: length of the marriage, conduct of the parties during the marriage, age, health, occupation, amount and sources of income, station (or lifestyle), vocational skills, employability, debts, the opportunities for each spouse to acquire future assets and income, and the needs of the parties.
The statute allows the court to award either the husband or the wife “all or any part of the estate of the other.” Thus, the property subject to division is not limited to only property obtained during the marriage, but includes all property including personal property, real estate, retirement benefits, legal and equitable interests in property (for example: stock options), and gifted and inherited assets, no matter how it was acquired.
An exception to this rule is that anticipated social security benefits may not be included as part of the marital estate nor may they be divided as all of the social security system is regulated by the federal government. This does not mean that you are not able to receive benefits from your former spouse’s social security however.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.