Divorce in MA (Massachusetts) involves many issues, some more easily solved than others.
Can I get a Divorce in MA?
An important first question is: where can you get a divorce? The place or location of your marriage is typically not relevant to the question of where you can divorce. If you have lived in Massachusetts for one year prior to filing for divorce, generally speaking you can get a divorce in MA. If one party lives in Massachusetts and the other party lives out of state and you both agree to divorce in Massachusetts, you should be able to get a MA divorce. If you have an unusual situation, call or email us to discuss whether a Massachusetts divorce mediation is available to you.
Divorce is never an easy process. However, there is an “easier” way and a “harder” way to get a divorce.
The “Easier” Way to Divorce in MA
The “easier” way to divorce in MA is when the parties can get to a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement is a document which deals with property division, alimony, child custody and child support.
The best way to reach a Separation Agreement is by divorce mediation. In mediation, the parties work out any differences they may have. The mediator then drafts the Separation Agreement for the parties to review and sign. The parties can also have the Separation Agreement reviewed by their own attorney if they wish. After the Separation Agreement is signed, both parties file a “Joint Petition” for divorce with the Court. This asks the Court to approve their Separation Agreement and grant them a divorce. A divorce mediator will prepare this paperwork too.
In this “easier” way to divorce, a judge is involved only at the end of the process. The divorce hearing is generally short. The judge simply makes sure that the Separation Agreement is “fair and reasonable” and that both parties understand the agreement and want the agreement.
The “Harder” Way to Divorce in MA
The “harder” way to divorce in MA starts when one of parties files a “Complaint for Divorce” with the Court. Next, either party may ask a judge to decide on temporary alimony, child custody, child support or other matters through the filing of a “motion”. By this time, each party has typically hired a divorce lawyer, has already spent thousands of dollars, had lots of stress and spent alot of time out of work on their divorce.
Six months after the filing of a divorce complaint, a case can be sent to Pre-Trial Conference before a judge. At the Pre-Trial Conference date the case may be scheduled for a contested trial. Because courts are busy, the parties may wait up to a year for the trial. A trial is when both parties and their lawyers present evidence to a judge by way of documents and testimony from the parties and other witnesses. The judge will then make final decisions on property division, alimony, child support and child custody.
A divorce trial is enormously expensive, takes alot of time and is very, very stressful on both parties and the children.
Even if a divorce in MA starts out with a Complaint for Divorce, the parties are still able to turn the process into the “separation agreement” process if they are able to reach agreement on the issues prior to a trial. Thus, you can use mediation even if you already have a contested case going at a Massachusetts Probate and Family Court.