In this edition of the Lynch & Owens Divorce Series, I will review the basic terminology, concepts and processes that make up divorce in Massachusetts. What is a divorce? At first blush that may seem like a simple question and one might expect a simple answer. Upon closer inspection, the answer really isn’t so simple. Divorce is a legal process that takes time and expertise to navigate through. Divorce requires court intervention and can be quite complex in scope and consequence. Although a party has the right to go “pro se” (represent themselves), due to the complexity it is advisable that you speak to an attorney who understands the rules and processes of matrimonial law.
Divorce, simply defined, is a court judgment that allows for the dissolution or legal ending of a marriage. In Massachusetts, the court requires a legal reason or “grounds” for the divorce (more on the available grounds in later posts). Although the facts surrounding each divorce are different, the basic building blocks for any divorce are generally made up of four basic ingredients: (1.) the division of marital assets, (2.) alimony, (3.) child custody and parenting time and (4.) child support. These issues must be addressed and reconciled before a divorce can legally become final. Please visit our Divorce & Family Law page, as well as the Lynch & Owens Family Law and Personal Injury Blog, for a detailed exploration of each of these legal categories.
Most Massachusetts divorce cases are settled through a written contract called a Separation Agreement. Cases those do not settle are resolved through a trial before a judge of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court. Whether resolved by agreement or judge, every divorce concludes with a “Judgment of Divorce” that articulates the specific rights and obligations of the former spouses regarding the division of marital property, alimony (if applicable) and child-related matters such as custody and child support.
The Lynch & Owens Massachusetts Divorce Series will review the basic steps that comprise getting divorced in Massachusetts, including: consulting with a divorce attorney, how a complaint for divorce is filed and served, how the divorce process proceeds through motions, discovery and negotiations, and finally the resolution of all issues through a settlement or trial.
For additional installments of the Lynch & Owens Massachusetts Divorce Series, please visit the main series page. If you need the assistance of a family law attorney, please contact us to schedule a free 1-hour consultation with me or one of our other attorneys.
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