Massachusetts is an "equitable division" state meaning the courts will divide property in an "equitable"; fair manner based upon numerous factors set forth in the statute.
In Massachusetts, ownership in or a right to the marital home is a marital asset subject to division.
In considering the asset of your home and its division, the court will apply the statutory factors to the factors of your marriage:
These factors are:
1. Length of the marriage
2. Conduct of the respective parties during the marriage
3. Ages of the respective parties
4. Health of the respective parties
5. Station of the respective parties
6. Occupations of the respective parties
7. Amount and sources of income of the respective parties
8. Vocational skills of the respective parties
9. Employ-ability of the respective parties
10. Estates of the respective parties
11. Liabilities of the respective parties
12. Needs of the respective parties
13. Current needs of the minor children of the marriage
14. Future needs of the minor children of the marriage
15. Opportunities available to the respective parties for future acquisition of capital
16. Opportunities available to the respective parties for future acquisition of income
17. Contributions of the respective parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their estates
18. Contributions of Husband or Wife as homemaker.
Yes, these are legal concepts and hiring a lawyer to argue these factors will cost a bundle.
Or just think of it this way: Basically there are four ways handle the issue of the marital home
1. sell now- here the parties agree to list the home, have it sold and split the proceeds in an agreed upon way.
2. sell later- one person will move out of the home; the other to stay in the home usually with children until a agreed upon date in the future the details of the sale to be agreed upon now so there are no surprises later.
3. one person buys out the other now- the house is valued, the mortgage is refinanced and the leaving spouse receives his/her agreed upon split of the home. The refinance will free the leaving spouse of the mortgage debt and the leaving spouse will have some money to put down on a new residence.
4. one person buys out the other later- Here the parties agree now that in or by some date in the future the home-bound spouse will buyout the other's agreed upon equity. The title may remain joint until that time or there may be other arrangements to protect the credit of the leaving spouse.
Of course, you need to have all the details and as many contingencies thought of in advance.
Finally there is a question of how to move through the divorce process; do you each want lawyers to represent you and make arguments to the court or do you as a couple and family want to try working with a mediator that will help educate you, help you generate options and help you make decisions as to what your agreement should be and give you the best chance for having a judge approve your agreement.
Save your money for your kids. try mediation!