Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We focus our law practice exclusively on Family Law and Divorce. We have 40 years combined legal experience practicing divorce law, helping clients make the best decisions for themselves and their children.
The exact path required to get through your divorce in Massachusetts will depend on several factors including whether you have children of the marriage, the value of your debts and assets, and whether there are contested issues in the divorce.
To start any divorce, one spouse (known as the “Petitioner”) must file a Petition for Divorce with the appropriate court and provide a copy of the Petition and a Summons to the other spouse (the “Respondent”). If the parties have reached an agreement regarding all issues in the divorce, a joint Petition may be filed with the court. If that is the case, the court need only approve the agreement for the divorce to become final. Otherwise, the Respondent has a limited amount of time after being served with the Petition within which to file an Answer with the court.
If no Answer is filed, the Petitioner may request a default judgment. If the Respondent does file an Answer, the discovery process will begin, involving each side sharing information with the other. A settlement agreement may be negotiated between the parties or contested issues will be decided by a judge or jury at trial if an agreement is not forthcoming.
Our divorce attorneys have practiced extensively in all family law courts in the area. Rest assured that we are familiar with all the local rules and procedures as well as with the judges and court staff in the court where your divorce case will be litigated.
The strategy of your case will be something you determine after consulting with your attorney because it will depend on the facts and circumstances of your divorce. For example, the strategy used for an agreed-upon divorce versus the one used for a contentious, contested divorce will be very different.
You will likely need to provide several important documents to your divorce attorney. Some of the most common of those include:
- Bank and financial statements
- Certified copy of your Marriage Certificate
- Proof of income for you and your spouse
- Documents supporting any claims for separate property
- Birth records for any minor children
- Copies of deeds, titles, and other ownership documents for assets
- Documents relating to marital debts, such as credit card statements
Once you hire an attorney, your attorney will become your voice, both with your spouse and with the legal system. In fact, your spouse will legally be required to direct all communications relating to the divorce to your attorney unless you choose to discuss the matter with him/her. If your divorce is amicable, you are certainly free to try and work out the details of the divorce with your spouse; however, your attorney will handle putting any agreement you reach into writing. If your divorce is not amicable, you should let your attorney handle all communications with your spouse.
The cost of your divorce will be determined, in large part, on how contentious it is and how valuable any assets are that are involved. Ideally, you and your spouse can reach an out-of-court settlement that resolves all issues in your divorce. Not only will that be easier for you from an emotional standpoint, but it will also keep the cost of the divorce down.
If you file an uncontested divorce, you will need to attend a final hearing after the judge has reviewed your paperwork. If the judge is satisfied that your divorce meets all the requirements for an uncontested, agreed-upon divorce, your divorce becomes final 90 days after the judgment date. If your divorce is contested, it can easily take months, even years, to resolve all the issues and finalize the divorce.
When you retain an attorney, you will be required to pay a retainer fee. All time spent on your case by your attorney as well as support staff will be billed against that retainer using the appropriate hourly fee, and you will be provided with monthly statements showing what has been billed. If the retainer fee is exhausted before your divorce is finished, you will need to replenish it.