If you’re considering filing for divorce in Massachusetts, make sure you understand the two types of dissolutions available to you.
Uncontested Massachusetts Divorce
In an uncontested divorce (sometimes referred to as 1A) you and your spouse file a joint petition for divorce along with a separation agreement.
The separation agreement, usually drafted with the assistance of an attorney, reviews the equitable division of property, assets, debt, businesses, and inheritances, and clarifies issues surrounding child custody and support.
Additionally, where there are minor children involved, the parents must attend a parenting class.
The court may request other documents as well. These may include a financial statement, the marriage certificate, and written statements about the reason for dissolution.
Once the paperwork is complete, both parties appear before a judge. At this meeting, the judge will ask questions concerning the documents. As long as there are no problems, the judge will order the divorce.
If you are considering an uncontested divorce, you may want to consider the use of Collaborative Law. Collaborative Law calls upon the skills of a specially trained attorney and focuses on neutrality and conflict management in order to identify and satisfy the priorities of all parties involved. It is particularly helpful during difficult discussions.
Contested Massachusetts Divorce
A contested divorce (sometimes called 1B) is more complex. It begins when one spouse (the plaintiff) files a Complaint for Divorce. The second spouse (the defendant) must answer the complaint. At this point, the divorce enters a pre-trial phase.
During this discovery period, both sides exchange information and attempt to resolve any issues, such as child custody. Each side captures the proposed resolution in Pre-Trial Memorandums, which they submit to the court.
At the actual Pre-Trial, the judge hears both sides, including witnesses; reviews exhibits and evidence; decides any issues; and grants the divorce. While you’re not required to have an attorney, a contested divorce is like any other case heard in court. It can be difficult to understand and follow all the rules.
Whatever road your divorce takes, it’s important to have the proper support system. That includes a good lawyer who understands divorce laws in Massachusetts.