Massachusetts Divorce Procedures

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In our life we take some big decisions, and we have to bear its consequences for the whole life. Decisions regarding career, job, marriage, investment, etc., are the most vital decisions. Sometimes we tend to take decisions in haste without thinking about the future, and then we have to face the dire consequences. Divorce is one such decision which must be taken after considering a lot of factors. Once you decide that you need to get permanently separated from your partner, you must do some research about how to get a legal order for it, the laws and processes of your state, how to get an alimony, if required, child custody, etc. These are the primary points of your dissolution 'to-do' list. Likewise when you are preparing your dissolution in Massachusetts, you must remember the Massachusetts divorce procedures.

In any state, there are some basic state laws that one has to follow. In this state a court process begins in one of the following two ways:

  • A complaint is mailed to the clerk of the state court by registered or certified mail. Along with the complaint, an entry fee determined by law is also sent.
  • The divorcing partner files a complaint along with the entry fee to the clerk in person.

Apart from the initial stage, you must gather key information regarding Service and the types of divorce in this state.

Massachusetts Divorce Procedures regarding Service

The Plaintiff or the lawyer of the Plaintiff submits a copy of the Complaint and the Summons to the special sheriff, deputy sheriff, sheriff or any other individual authorized by law. The Summons includes the facsimile signature or signature of the clerk in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or under the seal of the court.

The Summons consists of the following data:

  • Name of the court and both partners.
  • Name and address of the lawyer of the Plaintiff, if any.
  • The date before which the Defendant must file an Answer in the court.
  • The Summons notifies the Defendant that if the Defendant fails to answer in the stipulated time frame, a judgment by default can be rendered against him.

Two types of Massachusetts Divorce Procedures

There are 2 types of procedures for marital dissolution. These can be classified as an easy way and a hard way.

Divorce through Hard Way:

  • The hard way commences with one divorcing partners filing a Complaint for divorce and serving the other divorcing partner.
  • One or both divorcing parties can file a motion to determine child support, child custody, alimony and other issues on a temporary basis.
  • Six months from the date of filing the authorized complaint, one or both parties are empowered to request a trial date.
  • On the trial date, both the divorcing partners and their attorneys submit proof to the Judge in the form of witnesses, testimony and documents.
  • At the end of the trial, the Judge makes the final decision about child custody, child support, alimony and property division.
  • Before the trial date, if the divorcing partners are able to draft an agreement, the process becomes a separation agreement process.

Divorce through Easy Way:

  • If the divorcing partners desire for an easy way of dissolving marriage, they have to negotiate a separation agreement. This is fundamentally a contract that incorporates issues like child support, child custody, alimony and property division.
  • If there are any differences in the opinions of the divorcing partners, these partners negotiate amongst themselves or hire attorneys for the negotiations.
  • After the discussions are complete, the hired attorneys draft an agreement that is reviewed and signed by the divorcing partners.
  • When the separation agreement is ready with signatures, the divorcing partners file a Joint Petition for dissolution.
  • The Joint Petition requests the Court to endorse the agreement and issue orders regarding the final agreement.
  • Thus, in this method the divorcing partners involve the court only at the end of the procedure.
  • The case hearing is very brief and during it the Judge ensures that the agreement is reasonable and fair.
  • Whether both the divorcing partners have understood the agreement and consider it as a binding on them.

Depending on the nature of issues and your attitude towards these issues, you can choose the easy or the hard way. The details of these Massachusetts divorce procedures as given above will clear your confusion and you can take your decision quite easily. It is advisable to meet a lawyer whose valuable suggestion will show you the right direction.

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