Making the decision to obtain a divorce is never easy. Which types of divorce apply to your situation? To help you with this life-changing decision, its best to start by obtaining as much information about the process as you can.
There are two main types of divorce: contested and uncontested.
In an uncontested divorce, the parties generally agree about most issues surrounding the divorce; how to divide assets and debts, custody and parenting plans; retirement plans; insurance and tax issues. If you agree or mostly agree, you may want to inquire about mediation or an uncontested divorce. This will be the easiest and least costly way to get divorced. The more you two can work it out, the less help you will need from the court. There are two types of uncontested divorce: mutual and negotiated divorce.
Mutual Uncontested Divorce
A mutual uncontested divorce is the cheapest and easiest way to achieve divorce. In this type of divorce, the parties are in agreement about all of the issues and both have the primary and sole goal of getting the divorce processed. Massachusetts has enacted two statutes that can simplify the divorce process: no-fault divorce and uncontested divorce. The no-fault statute means that Massachusetts courts do not consider who may be at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, this factor becomes irrelevant and spouses do not need to spend time and money assessing blame for the failure of the marriage.
A negotiated divorce is a type of divorce that is a bit more complicated but, depending on the parties, can also be achieved relatively inexpensively and quickly. In this situation, the parties work to negotiate a comprehensive agreement detailing all of the intricacies related to the divorce of the couple. Attorney Melcher will meet with you to explain the divorce process and review your legal rights in detail; but most importantly, to understand what you aim to achieve via the divorce process. As the client, you direct the negotiation – your attorney is there to work for you and help you to achieve your goals.This type of divorce is easier, if there are less disputes about splitting up your life.
A contested divorce is the type of divorce for a couple who cannot agree upon the issues in the divorce. This couple may benefit from mediating some of their issues; or they might want to file for divorce right away and let the court decide on the major issues. Divorce is a traumatic affair whether it be amicable or contested; but, a contested divorce is the most trying on each spouse. Our Attorneys will help to guide you through the complex procedures in the court, to help you reach your end goal: separation and divorce while retaining a just portion of your assets and securing peace of mind.
The steps of a Contested Divorce
If you decide to pursue a contested divorce, the first step is to file for divorce with the Court. The filing allows a spouse to let the other spouse (and the Court) know that they will be seeking divorce. Once the filing is complete, then you will receive an official summons to court and your spouse has 20 days to file his/her answer or any counterclaims. Thus begins the Discovery and negotiating phase between spouses and attorneys. Both spouses have 45 days under Rules 4-1 and 410 to exchange mandatory financial disclosures. The goal of these disclosures is to level the playing field and ensure that both spouses are operating with the same financial records and information. This will give a true picture of the financial state of the marriage, its debts and assets. Settlement can happen at this point or, indeed, at any point throughout the contested divorce process. As your attorney, Attorney Melcher will be constantly searching for the quickest, fairest resolution to the issues while achieving your goals.
If no settlement is possible;
If yours is the type of divorce where no settlement is possible, the divorce action will proceed and the first time you will likely be called to Court will arrive shortly at a temporary orders hearing. The temporary orders are normally called for within the first three months. Despite being called “temporary” these orders can last throughout the divorce process. In fact, Judges do not usually change temporary orders, and they will only consider doing so if there is a substantial change. Therefore, it is imperative that you be prepared for this hearing and have a plan of action decided regarding all of the important issues: financial support, child custody, guardian ad litem (“GAL”) appointment, etc.
The next step is the four way conference and pre-trial conference. No matter what type of divorce, this is a vital meeting between the spouses and their attorneys where 98% of divorces are actually determined – eliminating the need for trial. However, if you are not able to come to an agreement, the Judge will schedule a date for the upcoming trial. At this hearing, the judge may advise the couple of his or her ultimate ruling. Judges offer this guidance in an effort to help couples reach settlement. If you can not settle, your case will go to trial.
Going to Trial
Trial can be an exhausting ordeal and once it is over, results are not immediate. There will be a waiting time for the Judge to consider all of the evidence revealed during the trial and past case history precedent so that he may finally come to a decision – sometimes not until six months later (or more).
As your attorney, Attorney Melcher will take care of all of the procedural details and help you to focus on achieving positive results. A contested divorce will almost never be a pleasant experience, but with Attorney Melcher guiding you through the process, you will not be left in the dark. My goal is to consistently keep my Client advised of happenings and their rights while guiding them through the course of the divorce process and always, Attorney Melcher will place your goals in the forefront.
Whichever type of divorce is appropriate for you, or if you just have questions about divorce in general, fill out the form below, and we will get back to you quickly and confidentially. A free consultation with one of our attorneys may help you with this difficult decision.
This list is actually kept short on purpose, each individual divorce is unique, and cannot be easily categorized. Each marriage is unique; follow this link to learn more about that! For information on what you should be thinking about while planning to divorce follow this link.