What I Need to File for Divorce in MA
The decision to seek a divorce can be one of the biggest and most important life decisions a person can make. Even when both parties want the divorce, there is a great deal of emotion, upheaval, and confusion. It is a time of transition and can take some time to complete. Before you plan to file for divorce in Massachusetts, it is important to know what steps to take and what to do to file.
- The first step is to determine if you qualify for a divorce in Massachusetts or if you have to seek one elsewhere. The filer must live in the state for a period of one year before filing. You may also seek a divorce if the grounds for divorce happened in Massachusetts and you live here for a year also.
- The second step is to locate the correct divorce court and file a petition for divorce and decree of divorce along with other necessary documents dependent on your situation.
- You will need to decide whether you are seeking a “no fault” or “fault” divorce. A no fault divorce is the most common and it basically declares there are irreconcilable differences leading to the breakdown of a marriage. A fault divorce can entail the split due to a number of extreme situations. Some of the reasons allowable under a fault divorce include: impotence, adultery, imprisonment for more than a year, absence of a spouse for two years, and refusal to cohabitate.
- After these steps, the court will work towards the dissolution of the marriage. The first step is the equitable distribution of property. This term can be misleading because it simply isn’t possible to equally divide everything. The court will divide marital property as fairly as possible, however Massachusetts courts strongly encourage couples to work together to come to an agreement. Having a current list of items and accounts that are considered marital property is recommended.
- The court will then do a restoration of name and declare spousal support. This form of support is not guaranteed. It is determined based on factors such as length of marriage, occupation, the needs of one partner, lifestyle, education or employability after a split, and other individual factors.
- The court will next assess the child custody situation and any amount for child support. This can be the most contentious and challenging part of a divorce. Each case is different and an experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney will outline what factors may play into an individual case. Support can be determined based on number of children, schedules, medical or education needs, income, and other factors.
- The final part of any divorce process can be modifications that are sought after agreements are made and the divorce is legalized. Modifications can be sought to adjust child support amounts, child custody issues, or alimony issues.
Even though a divorce is part of the legal process, it is also a highly personal journey and every divorce will be different than another. The best thing to do is to be prepared for the process by being aware of the steps that will unfold and how each of those steps can impact your future after a divorce is finalized. A skilled divorce attorney can look over your individual factors and help determine a timeline and possible outcomes for each aspect of your divorce.