Save time, money and stress in your divorce by approaching this step in a timely and thorough way. It will take time to pull together your information, but it is vital that you do this without cutting corners. Complete the initial paperwork. The type of divorce you decide to file will determine what forms you need to complete in Massachusetts:.
File your forms. After you have completed your forms, you will need to file the paperwork the Probate and Family Court. If you or your spouse lives in the county where you lived together, you file for divorce at the Probate and Family Court in that county. Otherwise, you can file in the county where you or your spouse live now.
You must serve your spouse with a copy of the initial paperwork within 90 days after you file your complaint. You cannot serve the papers yourself. In Massachusetts, a sheriff or constable can complete service on your behalf.
The sheriff or constable will deliver the documents in person to the defendant and return a completed Proof of Service either to you or directly back to the court. If the sheriff or constable cannot find the defendant after diligent attempts, you will need to file a motion with the court by filing a Motion for Alternative Service form and asking that service be completed by publication or by mailing.
If approved, you will be able to complete service by certified mail or by publishing a notice following court ordered guidelines in a local newspaper. The Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts do not accept divorce paperwork and fees or grant divorces online. It is possible to do some of the initial paperwork online by retaining the services of a private family law attorney or using one of several firms who specialize in assisting in the preparation of divorce forms in the state.
But the Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts offer this service online for free. However, once paperwork is completed, regardless of how it is completed, you must still file the documentation in person at the appropriate courthouse. It is possible to get a divorce in Massachusetts without using a lawyer. You must decide if you are going to file an uncontested or a contested divorce as your first step.
This will make it easier to draft a separation agreement that can then be reviewed by the court to make sure it is fair and reasonable. If you are finding it difficult to reach an agreement, you can use a mediator instead of getting lawyers involved. The mediator will take a collaborative approach and attempt to final terms that work best for both sides. Over the course of one or more sessions, a mediator will review financial documents, forms and worksheets as part of a discovery process and then guide you and your spouse through a series of discussions about the outstanding issues, attempting to peacefully resolve things such as child support and custody, alimony and a division of assets.
You can request that these fees be waived if you are too poor to afford to pay them. You will also need to pay some sort of a retainer up front to start the process. In some cases, a judge may require a couple to go through mediation as part of the divorce process. Fully contested divorces can run into the tens of thousands of dollars depending on how contentious the divorce is, what kind of assets are involved, and how much disagreement there is with child custody and support issues.
When a couple first agrees to an uncontested divorce and creates a written Separation Agreement that is then filed with the Probate and Family Court as joint petitioners, the process takes about three months. In more complicated marriages where issues need to be worked out, the time frame can take considerably longer.
Parents who have minor children are required to take a court-approved parent education program and must also allow themselves time to complete this pre-hearing requirement. A certificate of program completion must be filed with the Court as part of the divorce filing. After a Separation Agreement, financial statements and a Joint Petition for divorce have been filed, a hearing date will be scheduled.
If the Separation Agreement is approved, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi temporary judgment of divorce will be entered 30 days later. That Judgment will then become absolute final within 90 more days. This means that the entire process, including the negotiations to create a Separation Agreement generally take about 7 to 8 months in an uncontested divorce. In a contested divorce where only one party files a Complaint for Divorce, the parties must wait six months from the filing date to have a divorce hearing where a Judgment of Divorce Nisi may be issued.
The Judgment will then become final within 90 days after that. If both sides reach a settlement during the six month waiting period, the divorce can be switched to uncontested so that the hearing process can be set without going through the entire six-month period. However, most of the time this is not the case and a trial may be required when no agreement is reached. This can result in an additional waiting period of several more months. In Massachusetts, the Probate and Family Court official time-standard for contested divorces is 14 months This means that the divorce process, from filing to entry of a judgment, should take no more than 14 months.
Do you know your options for healthcare insurance should you divorce?
Every divorce has financial issues that need to be addressed. In some cases, a family law attorney can provide all the information you need. A CDFA can help you understand the long-term impact of your decisions so you can weigh the pros and cons. In fact, working with a CDFA can actually lower the cost of your divorce by giving you more clarity to make decisions which cuts down on the back-and-forth negotiations.
Bifurcation means that both parties in a divorce can legally divide their divorce into two stages. The first part satisfies the grounds for the divorce.
The marriage is terminated at that point. It also means that the financial aspects of the divorce such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony or other contentious issues that may have stalled or that have become major sticking points will be finalized at a later date.
Unfortunately, bifurcation in Massachusetts is not allowed. All issues must be resolved and finalized before a divorce will be granted.
5 Crucial Insurance Changes After Divorce - NerdWallet
If you are served with papers but refuse to sign a separation agreement, then the divorce is considered a contested divorce and your case will be resolved by a judge instead of the spouses working out terms. Cooperation among spouses makes the process easier and less expensive, but the bottom line is that one spouse will not be able to stop another spouse from getting a divorce.
The divorce decree is also a summary of the rights and responsibilities of each party, including financial responsibilities and a division of assets. In Massachusetts a divorce nisi is the time between when a judge grants a divorce and when the divorce becomes final. It gives both parties a chance to change their minds and to verify that all assets in a marriage have been properly and truthfully accounted.
No actions need to be taken during this time. When the waiting period ends, your divorce will be final automatically.
A contested no-fault divorce is not final until 90 days from the date of the hearing if a judgment is entered. After your divorce is final, you will not receive an actual decree from the court, but you can request a certified copy of your divorce decree from the court that granted your divorce. A decree is a legally binding document, and if either party does not meet the requirements and obligations set forth in the decree, the other party can take legal action to correct any deficiencies.
What Are My Health Care Rights After a Divorce
A divorce certificate has much less information than a decree. Judges must take the health insurance coverage of both parties into consideration. If an employer offers employees an insured plan, the employer buys coverage from a managed care organization for example, a Health Maintenance Organization, aka HMO or an insurance carrier. Self-insured plans are not subject to the insurance laws within the state of Massachusetts. If you are interested in learning more about the health insurance options available to you after a divorce, contact Infinity Law Group today.
We will help you determine which health insurance option works best for you and your family following a divorce. Call for a Free Consultation for your Massachusetts case.
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