Divorce is never easy. There are so many emotions involved and it can be an incredibly stressful and difficult time. If you are going through the divorce process, you want to make sure that you get the settlement that you deserve.
Divorces are expensive and time-consuming. You need to hire an experienced the best divorce lawyer who has handled contested divorces as well as an uncontested divorce. You also need to be aware of your rights and obligations under Massachusetts divorce law.
- 1 Divorce Process
- 2 Contested Divorce
- 3 Fault vs No-Fault Divorce
- 4 Circumstances for Divorce in Massachusetts
- 5 Common Divorce Mistakes
- 5.1 Who Pays Legal Fees in a divorce in Massachusetts?
- 5.2 What is mandatory self-disclosure during an MA disclosure?
- 5.3 Is it necessary to fill out a financial statement during a MA divorce?
- 5.4 How much is the divorce filing fee in Massachusetts?
- 5.5 Needham Heights Divorce Lawyer – Free Consultation
The sooner you start the divorce proceedings, the less likely you are to lose money or marital property. According to the divorce residency requirements, you can file for divorce in Massachusetts if you have lived in the state for 1 year or the reason the marriage ended happened in Massachusetts and you lived in the state as a couple.
In Massachusetts, you have the right to be represented by a divorce attorney. A Competent uncontested divorce lawyer will help you with all aspects of your case including:
- Preparing and filing for divorce papers
- Negotiating the divorce settlement
- Property Division
- Protecting your interests during court hearings
- Obtaining child custody such as Sole custody or Physical custody
- Parenting plan
- Creating a legal custody arrangement
- Visitation orders for minor children
- Collecting child support payments for minor children
- Determining how much alimony you should receive
- Paying off debts
- Equitable distribution
- Selling assets – Equitable division of property
- Appealing decisions made by the courts
It is important to remember that there are two types of attorneys: general practitioners and specialists. General practitioners are those who handle most cases. They usually charge lower fees than specialists.
However, they cannot accurately represent you in specialties such as family law in MA, like experienced family law attorneys will. Specialists typically handle more complex cases and require higher attorney fees.
Simply described, a contested divorce is one in which one or both spouses challenge (argue) a particular element of the divorce. As a result, the divorce process is far more drawn out and frequently stressful.
Before the divorce is finalized in a contentious divorce, the partners will have to go through a number of legal processes, such as settlement proposals and talks between experienced divorce attorneys, court trials, and perhaps filing for an appeal.
Fault vs No-Fault Divorce
A fault-based divorce occurs when a spouse files for divorce, claiming that their partner was responsible for it. On the other hand, no-fault divorce is when a spouse files for divorce without laying blame but instead cites an irretrievable breakdown.
No-fault divorce is split into two more types of divorce:
- No-fault 1A divorce is when both spouses agree there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage and they have a written agreement on child support, child custody, alimony, parenting time, and division of marital assets.
- No-fault 1B divorce is when one or both spouses feel irreconcilable differences but don’t agree on child support, child custody issues, and division of assets. It’s also known as a contested no-fault divorce. However, if the couple can agree on these separation issues, the spouse can file a request to change the divorce complaint from 1B to a 1A divorce.
Circumstances for Divorce in Massachusetts
Massachusetts allows for the filing of a fault-divorce on a number of grounds. Grounds for divorce include:
- Atrocious habits of intoxication
- Cruel and abusive spouse
- Lack of Adequate Support
- Prison sentence of 5+ years
How Long Does Divorce Take in MA?
In MA, divorce proceedings are often complete 120 days after the date of the verdict. Many factors contribute to this time frame based upon the circumstances of the divorce. Also, depending on the type of divorce, either a contested or an uncontested divorce of type 1A or type 1B, a MA divorce may take less time or more time to finalize and receive a divorce decree.
- Uncontested Divorce (1A): The spouses will be given their uncontested hearing date when they submit their Agreement and Joint Petition for Divorce. Since it is normal for Probate and Family Court to get backlogged, this date will be set depending on the court’s availability. After the divorce hearing and the judge’s approval of the Separation Agreement, a temporary divorce judgment will be granted 30 days later. That identical judgment will become conclusive after 90 days.
- Contested Divorce (1B): A contested divorce becomes active as soon as one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce. The wait time between filing and entry of judgment shouldn’t exceed 14 months, depending on the court’s backlog.
Common Divorce Mistakes
If you are either getting a divorce or are thinking about it, it is crucial to be aware of several frequent errors that might quickly ruin your chances of receiving a good settlement. By doing this, you can avoid falling into any of these awful traps.
Given everything that is at risk at this crucial moment, you shouldn’t act quickly or without qualified legal assistance. To ensure that your interests are preserved during the divorce process, contact Parousis Law, an experienced family law attorney.
- Leaving trusts and bequests alone: One of the biggest mistakes individuals make after getting divorced is forgetting to update their wills or trusts.
- Pressing on a fight: Speak with a lawyer about other viable choices to divorce your marriage before playing into the stereotype and getting your hands dirty.
- Involving the kids: It would be ideal for everyone if the kids weren’t involved in the divorce as much as practicable if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse had kids together.
- Waiting for the holidays to end: Married couples frequently postpone starting divorce proceedings until after the holidays or another significant event to avoid ruining the celebration.
- Forgetting property taxes: To preserve stability in a child’s life, it is likely that the court will wish to provisionally grant the family home to the partner who is granted primary child custody.
Who Pays Legal Fees in a divorce in Massachusetts?
Every party in the divorce caters to their expenses and legal fees during an MA divorce. However, if one spouse controls the family finances and the other has no access to the funds to pay legal fees, you can file a motion seeking fund release that you’ll use to pay legal fees. Once the divorce is finalized, attorney fees can be treated as a liability allocated to both parties as property division.
Also, the court can order one party to pay the legal fees if it believes their behavior during the process was improper.
What is mandatory self-disclosure during an MA disclosure?
Forty-five days after the service of the Complaint and Summons on the defendant, the parties involved need to provide their records (including tax records and bank statements) according to the Supplemental Probate and Family Court Rule 410.
These documents should be provided even when the other party doesn’t ask for them. You should prove reasonable efforts to acquire the documents if you don’t provide them.
Is it necessary to fill out a financial statement during a MA divorce?
Each party in a divorce process involving finances or money should fill out a financial statement. If you earn less than $75,000, you fill out the short form and the long form if you make over $75,000.
How much is the divorce filing fee in Massachusetts?
The divorce filing fee in Massachusetts is $220 for a contested divorce and $215 for an uncontested divorce. There’s also a $25 electronic filing fee. Aside from this, there are sheriff or constable costs of between $50 and $150 for contested divorces.
If you cannot afford these costs, you should submit an Affidavit of Indigency form along with the divorce petition to get a fee waiver. The form also requests the court to demand the state to pay constable or deputy sheriff court papers. The form includes your income and the fees you need assistance with.
You are exempt from filing fees if:
- You earn less than 125% of the poverty level stipulated by the federal government
- You are a beneficiary of public benefits
- Can prove that paying these fees makes it difficult to cater to your basic needs
Needham Heights Divorce Lawyer – Free Consultation
Michael S. Parousis is an experienced attorney that can analyze your divorce agreement, including complex property division and tax difficulties if you do not understand your legal alternatives or what the court is asking of you.
We’re committed to applying our knowledge to make sure that your best interests have been appropriately tended to and that you are observing the conditions of your divorce. No matter what divorce-related concerns you are dealing with, our firm can handle them all.
Parousis Law is a highly successful law firm. Mr. Parousis has been barred since 2006. He opened his own law firm in 2021. He is now able to provide the personalized compassion and attention that is needed when dealing with sensitive cases, such as divorce.
Please call (781) 412-1734 to set up your free initial consultation.