Divorce is a legal process also commonly known as Dissolution of Marriage, where a matrimony bond between two persons is dissolved by a legal authority. Bringing the statuses of both people back to being single and allowing them to marry other people. The area of divorce and marriage in the United States comes under the jurisdiction of the state government.
Divorce rates have been known to have increased over time from the mid – to –late century in the United States. Studies suggest that there are more divorces obtained in America than were given all across Europe.
Divorce laws vary from state to state in the US as per the resources and the authoritative rules and decisions.
Let’s look at the process and issues involved in the divorce process in Massachusetts.
What is Law about Divorce?
The laws of the state where the couple is located are applicable at the time of divorce and not where the couple got married. All of the states consider the divorces accorded by other states. All states have a minimum amount of residence time that a couple must complete before being eligible for filing a divorce.
Although some states have a mandated policy regarding a minimum separation period before no-fault divorce, most of the states allow the respective divorce based on reconcilable differences and loss of affection.
Legal Grounds for Divorce
Though the laws of divorce vary between states but the basic two factors of divorce are fault-based and no-fault divorce.
Fault-based divorces are given a waiting period to seek issues in hopes of affecting the final decisions relating to child custody, child support, and alimony, etc.
A court always takes into account the behavior of two parties in the situation regarding handling matters like separate property and over legal separation and debts.
The Process Divorce According To Massachusetts Divorce Laws
Let us look at the process step by step.
- Filing The Divorce
For a divorce process to start, at least one spouse in a marital relationship is required to file a petition asking to terminate the marriage whether or not both the spouses agree.
The spouse is supposed to include the following in the petition,
- A statement showing that at least one spouse meets the Massachusetts residency requirements required for divorce.
- A ground-based legal reason for the divorce
- Any other requirement as per the Massachusetts
Massachusetts usually requires a minimum number of months for at least one spouse to reside in before being eligible for a divorce. It is vital for divorcing spouses to meet the criteria of Massachusetts residency before the court holds up a case.
- Requesting Temporary Order
For a stay-at-home parent looking after a child and being financially independent on a partner, becomes a difficult task to spend the next six months while the divorce is being settled so asking a court for a temporary order for child custody, child support, and spousal support.
If you ask for a temporary court order, a hearing will be held to hear both partners out before ruling out a decision.
If you need a temporary court order and did not file for it while filing the divorce, apply for temporary order as soon as you can.
- Service and Response
Service is the filing spouse’s responsibility where after the petition is filed, the other spouse is needed to be provided a copy of paperwork and file proof of service with the court.
The response is the responsibility that lies on the receiving spouse’s shoulders. Usually titled ‘defendant’ or ‘respondent’, the one who receives the paperwork is required to answer or reply to the divorce paperwork within the required time otherwise, failure of replying within the given time could turn out the result as ‘default’ judgment against the receiving spouse.
- Negotiating on settlements in accordance with the law of divorce
Having a different opinion on the important matter is common in many cases and is sought out at this stage of the divorce process. Important matters like equitable distribution of properties, deciding custody of a child, and custody of marital assets are discussed in a formal settlement conference held by the court where both the parties with attorneys negotiate.
- Divorce Trial
Despite putting best efforts by both spouses, negotiations fail, and as a result, the court is asked to further assist in the matter which takes everything to trial. It is expensive and immensely time-consuming as well as takes away all the authority from both spouses. It is best to avoid a trial if not necessary.
- Finalized judgment
When the judge signs the judgment of divorce, the final step of divorce comes in whether it be a negotiation among the spouses or a judge assisted in taking a significant decision.
The order of dissolution authenticate the divorce and mentions the allocation of custodial responsibilities to both spouses. It also mentions how the couple will divide assets and debts and will spend how much time with children etc.
Issues Involved in a Divorce Process in Massachusetts
A few of the most common issues involved while filing a divorce are,
Financial support is provided by one spouse to the other after the marriage has ended. Also known as ‘spousal support’, temporary alimony can be granted during the divorce process as well. However, if the alimony continues after the judgment of divorce the expense may be higher or lower than that of temporary.
- Child Custody
The law in the US regarding custody is governed by the state rather than the federal government. Neither parent is given any preference over the other based on gender and is given equal rights. There are two main types of custody, joint custody where equal rights are given to each parent in taking important decisions of life, and sole custody where the child spends the majority of his/her time with one parent. The other parent who can only spend some time is called ’visitation’ with the child and has no say in any of the important decisions.
- Child Support
Child support is modifiable according to the change in circumstances from the day when the court decides when the income and other factors play an important role in child support change.
- Property Division
Property division is done in two ways; community property states and equitable distribution. In Massachusetts, all marital property is classified as separate or community. Community property is generally the one that is divided equally between the spouses during the time of divorce while the separate property is not divided.
In some states, assets and properties earned and built over time during the marriage are all divided equitably.
How much does a Divorce in Massachusetts cost?
The average cost of divorce in the United States depends on state to state and as for Massachusetts, the average cost of a divorce is $12,900. However, this average cost varies from a contested divorce to an uncontested one.
Uncontested divorce where all the major issues are resolved by couples themselves, on average costs around $4.100. In a contested divorce, disputes over child custody, alimony, and other major unresolved issues can increase the cost of divorce significantly.
On average, a divorce that has trials over two or more unresolved issues costs up to $23,300 in Massachusetts.
Divorces are messy and sometimes, deciding to take divorce becomes the easier part as compared to going through the process of obtaining it. Professional help brings much ease while striving for divorce as you get the shared property and custody distributed fairly. Being aware of all the aspects before filing for divorce comes in handy and makes the difficult journey easy for the family.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a divorce take in Massachusetts?
The time period for a divorce to fully be finalized depends solely on your situation. A divorce can take several months if you are the divorce is uncontested in Massachusetts. However, in case of a contested divorce, trials held by the court on unresolved issues can take a while in Massachusetts.
What is the difference between contested and uncontested divorce in Massachusetts?
If a couple seeking a divorce in Massachusetts comes to an agreement and stand on the same page before trial about all the major issues that is an uncontested divorce whereas, if the couple cannot agree and resolve matters related to big issues, it is a contested divorce where issues are then resolved through trials by the court.