A recent Massachusetts Appeals Court decision upheld both the division of assets and an award of alimony where a husband and wife had been married only seven weeks before separating. See T.E. v. A.O, Mass. App. Ct. 11-P-246, (2012).
Upon divorce, Massachusetts courts are empowered to make an equitable division of divorcing parties’ property under G.L. c. 208, § 34. This statute lists the factors a court considers in determining the division of assets and liabilities. These factors include: length of marriage; conduct of the parties during the marriage; parties’ age, health, station, occupation, incomes, vocational skills, employability, needs, assets, liabilities, future opportunities, and contributions to their mutual and individual estates; and the needs of the children.
In this case, the parties’ marriage disintegrated quickly, and the husband became romantically involved with a woman he had met during his bachelor party trip to Las Vegas. The wife experienced severe emotional trauma that impacted her ability to work, eat, or sleep.
In divorce proceedings, the trial court applied the § 34 factors to require the husband to pay $29,500, or one half of the debt and diminished assets incurred “during the marriage,” although some of that debt was actually incurred for the bachelor party trip. The court also required the husband to pay alimony of $2,100 per month for one year. The appeals court upheld both awards as proper under § 34.
If you have questions about how § 34 factors apply to a division of assets and liabilities in a divorce proceeding, or about alimony awards, contact Hutchins Law, P.C.