In Massachusetts, you can either file for a contested or uncontested divorce. It is important to note that whether you file for a contested or uncontested divorce, an automatic restraining order applies to both parties, which prohibits either spouse from engaging in any activity that would affect the financial status of either or both spouses. It is vital to plan before you file!
The Quincy divorce attorneys of Sweeney and Associates, LLC are well versed in Massachusetts family law. Our firm can answer your questions and help you resolve your case as favorably as possible.
Uncontested divorces are governed by G.L. c.208, Section 1A. An uncontested divorce based on an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is filed when both parties agree they want to divorce. The document filed is called a Joint Petition for Divorce. If you are filing for an uncontested divorce, the following must be filed:
After all the documents for an uncontested divorce are filed, the parties will receive a hearing notice. The parties will appear in court on that day and the judge will conduct a colloquy of the parties ensuring that the parties have read the Separation Agreement, have had the opportunity to consult with counsel if they wish, and to make sure that the parties are entering the agreement of their own free will.
The court's role in this type of hearing is to make sure that the separation agreement is in accordance with Massachusetts laws. For example, if there are children of the marriage, the parties cannot waive the right to pay or receive child support. This type of hearing is very quick and usually lasts only five minutes. The key to making this successful is proper preparation with a skilled attorney who can anticipate your needs and ensure that all aspects of the divorce are covered in a way that protects you. There is no substitute for knowledge and experience.
The goal of the Probate and Family Court is to have the parties work out their own Separation Agreement. The Separation Agreement typically governs several issues related to the separation of two parties, including, but not limited to, the division of assets, legal and physical custody of any children, parenting time with the children, child support, alimony, health insurance, marital debt and tax issues.
The court believes, just as we do here at Sweeney & Associates, LLC, that the best outcome is when two parties can fully agree on a settlement. When both parties are able to come to an agreement regarding child custody, parenting time, child support or the division of assets, the parties are more likely to be able to communicate effectively moving forward.
Whenever children are involved, it is important that both parties be able to communicate even after they are divorced. At Sweeney & Associates, LLC, our Quincy divorce lawyers will prepare all the divorce paperwork, including the Separation Agreement, and attend the uncontested divorce hearing with you as we guide you through the process.
Contested divorces are governed by G.L. c.208, Section 1B. A contested divorce based on an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is filed when only one party wants a divorce. If one party files for a contested divorce and then the other party agrees that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, the Complaint for Divorce can be amended to a Joint Petition. Once a party files for divorce, the case will progress through the courts and the parties will have to attend several court dates, including a Case Management Conference, a pretrial date and a trial date. If you are filing for a contested divorce, the following must be filed:
The practice at Sweeney & Associates, LLC is to file a Motion for Temporary Orders at the same time we file the Complaint for Divorce. The court will schedule a hearing date for the Motion and both parties will have to appear at the hearing. On the Motion date, the judge will make Temporary Orders that usually remain in effect until the parties either agree on a divorce settlement or until the court enters a judgment after the trial. At the hearing, we address custody of the child(ren), parenting time (formerly known as visitation), alimony, which party shall remain in the marital home, and child support. These are just some of the general issues addressed.
At Sweeney and Associates, we recognize that not every case is the same and that different issues present themselves in each case. We take the time and patience to guide you through these issues of concern for our clients and address those issues in court. In most cases, there are numerous issues that need to be addressed at this stage that you may not even be aware exist.
Please contact our family law firm online today, or you may call us directly at (617) 300-0212.