If you’re getting a divorce in Massachusetts, the process can vary based on whether it’s contested or uncontested. Both options require court involvement, but one is more complex and time consuming than the other. Here are a few things that you should know about contested vs. uncontested divorces in Massachusetts.

Difference between Contested and Uncontested Divorces

An uncontested divorce is one where both spouses agree to the divorce and all of the terms of the divorce. The divorce is basically amicable. There are no disputes on marital assets, child custody, alimony, child support, etc. If even one item is up for dispute, then the divorce becomes contested. In contested divorces, the parties will be asking a judge to make a decision on items that the parties cannot agree on themselves.

Judicial Process for Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces in Massachusetts

Uncontested divorces follow a fairly simple process. Paperwork is filed with the courts. A hearing will take place, during which a judge will review those documents. A judgement is entered and the divorce becomes final a certain number of days after that hearing.

As expected, contested divorces are much more complex. Typically, one spouse files a complaint with the courts. The other is then given an opportunity to respond to that complaint. Parties will request and provide information to the one another during a discovery process. Pre-trial hearings often take place.

A mediator may become involved to assist parties with coming to an agreement (to avoid a court hearing). If agreement cannot be achieved, then the case will go to trial. A trial would take place no earlier than 6 months after the original divorce filing. A judge ultimately hears the case and will render a decision based on Massachusetts law and the information provided by both parties.

Deciding How to File

Divorces are never easy, but it’s important to remember that decision making power is initially in the hands of both spouses. If both can compromise on the terms of the divorce, then a judge need not make those decisions for them. However, if both parties dig in their heels, then the ultimate decision will reside with a judge.

A quick divorce is normally only possible when uncontested. Contested divorces will automatically take at least 6 months and require many hours of legal services. Divorcing spouses should keep this in mind when deciding between contested vs. uncontested divorces in Massachusetts.