You and your spouse have decided that your marriage isn’t working and that it’s time to dissolve it. However, you’re worried about the costs. Despite the divorce being mutually agreed upon, you keep wondering, “what is the cost of an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts?”
In MA, an uncontested divorce could cost as low as $215 without divorce lawyers. An experienced divorce lawyer can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. Divorce Lawyer Michael S. Parousis charges a flat fee of $1,500 – $3,000, depending on the complexities of the case.
If the two parties can agree through divorce mediators, the divorce could be much less expensive.
But what makes up for this cost? In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss the process of an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts and, therefore, get a rationale for the cost of such a divorce. We’ll also answer any questions about filing for an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts.
The Process Of An Uncontested Divorce in MA
Once both spouses are in complete agreement on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, the process is relatively easier and faster.
The first thing they’ll need to do is prepare a separation agreement. This agreement outlines all major issues, including child custody, parenting time, division of assets, and alimony payments. This must be signed by both parties and notarized before it can be presented to a Probate and Family Court. Without a separation agreement, you cannot file for a no-fault 1A divorce in Massachusetts.
Usually, the preparation of a separation agreement takes 2–3 weeks but could extend to up to eight months.
With a separation agreement in place, you can now file your divorce papers with the probate and family court in the county where you or your spouse live. When filing this Joint Petition for Divorce and the Joint Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown, parents should also file their custody agreement and child support guidelines. In addition to the separation agreement, you’ll also need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate.
Once the petition is filed, there will be a hearing before a judge to review and approve the divorce agreement. While no litigation is required, both parties will still be required to attend a hearing. During the hearing, the probate and family judge will review the separation agreement and other divorce papers to ensure the divorce is fair to both parties.
After the approval, the judge will grant a divorce judgment that legally terminates the marriage. The divorce then takes 120 days from the date the order was issued to become official. The entire process takes about 5-8 months, depending on backlogs within the Probate and Family Court.
You can file for a no-fault uncontested divorce in Massachusetts without a lawyer. However, it’s highly recommended that you use a lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected, and that the separation agreement is fair.
Cost of an Uncontested Divorce in MA Without an Attorney
In Massachusetts, the fees for filing an uncontested divorce are $200, with an additional surcharge of $15, making the total filing fee $215.
Suppose you and your spouse can agree on all important aspects of the divorce, such as alimony, child support, division of property, and custody arrangements. In that case, you may be able to file for an uncontested divorce without the use of a lawyer.
If you cannot afford to pay the court fees, you should apply for indigency (Waiver of Court fees). If your Affidavit of Indigency is in the proper form, the court is supposed to waive the filing fee and you will not have to pay the costs for “service of process.”
Cost of an Uncontested Divorce in MA with an Attorney
While filing for a collaborative divorce without legal assistance is possible, we do not recommend it. The benefits of hiring an experienced attorney far outweigh the burden of your divorce documents being filed incorrectly, therefore delaying the divorce process.
The average cost of hiring a family law attorney for a no-fault divorce varies depending on the individual attorney’s fees and how complex the divorce is. On average, it can range from $1000 to $5000.
At Parousis Law, our experienced uncontested divorce attorney charges between $1500-$3000 for an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts.
How Long Does An Uncontested Divorce Take?
If both parties agree and are willing to work together, an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts can take as little as 90-120 days to be finalized, for when a separation order exists. If a separation order isn’t in place, a 1A Divorce could take up to eight months to finalize.
In such cases, there’s no need to make extensive arguments before a Probate and Family Court judge. This allows the divorce to move quickly through the court system. However, the process may take longer if there are any complications or disagreements.
Some of the factors that could result in an uncontested divorce taking longer could include the following:
- The presence of marital property that needs to be divided
- Child custody issues
- The availability of each spouse for meetings
- How long it takes the Court to clear backlogs
How Long Do You Have to Be Separated Before Divorce?
In Massachusetts, if you’ve been physically separated from your spouse for at least 18 months and amicably agree to divorce, you can file for an uncontested 1A divorce.
You do not need the Court’s permission to separate from your spouse. During this legal separation, you can keep working on a separation agreement to ensure your divorce runs smoothly when the time comes.
Do You Have To Go To Court For Uncontested Divorce?
While neither party needs to argue their case before a Judge, Massachusetts law still requires that both spouses attend divorce hearings. During these divorce hearings, the Probate and Family Court judge reviews the separation agreement to ensure it is fair for both parties.
During this hearing, the judge ascertains that the children’s needs and interests are met, and that the division of assets is fair.
If one spouse cannot be present for these hearings, the judge can accept an affidavit signed by the absent spouse, ensuring that they agree to the terms of the divorce.
How Can I Reduce the Cost of Divorce in Massachusetts?
One of the easiest ways to reduce the cost of divorce in Massachusetts is by opting for an uncontested divorce. When you and your spouse can amicably agree on all aspects of the divorce, it eliminates the need for extensive legal fees and court costs.
If both parties can work together in a civil manner and come to mutually beneficial agreements, a collaborative divorce can save time and money for both parties involved.
The cost of divorce will also reduce if you hire an Attorney who charges a flat fee as opposed to one who charges an hourly rate. This is because a flat-fee attorney will work to resolve your divorce in a time frame that’s as short as possible rather than dragging it out for more billable hours.
At Parousis Law, we offer a flat fee option for uncontested divorces in Massachusetts so that our clients can have the peace of mind of knowing exactly how much their divorce will cost without any hidden fees.
Other ways to reduce costs include:
- Opt for divorce mediation rather than the court process.
- Be organized with your documents: The quicker and easier your attorney can access your documents, the less time they will have to spend on your case; hence lower divorce attorney fees.
- Complete as much paperwork as possible before meeting with your attorney.
- Ensure regular communication with your divorce attorney.
If you have any questions about the cost or process of an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.
What Are the Requirements for 1A Divorce in Massachusetts?
For you to file a no-fault 1A divorce in Massachusetts, both spouses must agree that they’ve had an irretrievable breakdown of marriage and be willing to sign a separation agreement that outlines the division of assets and child custody or support if applicable.
To file for a 1A uncontested divorce, both of you must meet the Massachusetts residency requirements that require that one of the parties must have lived in the State for at least one year before filing for divorce. The grounds for divorce should have also happened within the State.
What Happens During an Uncontested Divorce Hearing in MA?
During the uncontested divorce hearing, the Probate and Family Court judge will review and accept the signed separation agreement. If both parties have minor children, they must present a signed child support guidelines worksheet that outlines who gets physical custody. parenting time, and support arrangements.
If any assets were purchased during the marriage, the judge will also review and accept the division of these marital assets as outlined in the separation agreement.
Once the judge has gone through the divorce papers and deemed that all agreements are fair and in the best interest of any minor children, they will officially terminate the marriage and issue a divorce decree.
Is an Uncontested Divorce Easier with a Postnuptial or a Prenuptial Agreement?
Having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place can make the uncontested divorce process in Massachusetts easier, and faster, as it outlines how assets will be divided and can help prevent any disagreements during the divorce proceedings.
However, it is important to note that both parties must have entered into these agreements willingly and without pressure or coercion, and they must have had access to their own legal representation.
If you are considering entering into a postnuptial or prenuptial agreement, it is important to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can ensure that your agreement is fair and legally binding.
Experienced MA Divorce Lawyer Parousis Law
The cost of a No-Fault Divorce in Massachusetts can vary, but it is typically much less expensive than a contested divorce. Working together amicably with your spouse and ensuring all agreements are fair can save time and money during the divorce process. Before filing for divorce, make sure to meet the residency requirements and prepare a signed separation agreement and parenting plan.
It’s important to note that while an uncontested divorce may save money in the short term, it’s crucial to ensure that any agreements made are fair for both parties involved. Contact Parousis Law to guide and protect your rights and interests within Massachusetts law.
They can state that they had an irretrievable breakdown of marriage as the reason for their divorce.