Legal Separation in Massachusetts
In many states, there is a process for legal separation. In Massachusetts, there isn’t a specific process for legal separation; you can choose to live apart from your spouse. You can, however, decide to create a Complaint for Separate Support or a Complaint for Support.
You can file a complaint for separate support if your current spouse has abandoned you, isn’t supporting you, or you have chosen to separate. This process can also be used if you need to remove yourself from a situation such as abuse, desertion, or adultery.
The cost for this process is minimal, typically around $100 or more, and you can have your wishes legally enforced.
Once you have completed the necessary paperwork, you must serve your spouse with the papers. The court will get you the summons and notice information once you file, and you will have to make arrangements for another party to serve the documents to your spouse. Once they receive them, they will be notified of what happens next.
Both of you will attend court, and the judge will read over the documents and review both of your financial information. Income, assets, and any other incoming cash flow may all be reviewed. The number of children or people that you are supporting is also a factor.
The judge will carefully review all pertinent information and ask questions to investigate your situation further. They will generally use the Child Support Guidelines to determine what and how much support may be necessary for your children. They will also review whether or not you are eligible for support. If medical support is required for either your children or you, that will also be determined.
What Does Divorce Look Like in Massachusetts?
There are generally two types of divorce in Massachusetts; they are no-fault divorce or fault divorce. If your spouse is guilty of one of the seven grounds for a fault divorce, you may choose to use this option when filing.
The seven grounds for a fault divorce in Massachusetts are;
- Desertion for a minimum of one year
- A prison sentence of five or more years
- Habitual and confirmed intoxication
- Cruel and abusive treatment
The person initiating the fault divorce bears the burden of proving the grounds for divorce. This process can take longer and may cost more than a no-fault divorce. Proving legitimate grounds for a fault divorce may not mean that requests for child support or alimony will go in your favor.
For these reasons, a no-fault divorce is the more common option; however, there are times when a fault divorce is the best option for you. Work with your experienced attorney to determine which is best for your specific needs.
Contesting a Divorce
If a divorce is uncontested, it generally means that both parties agree that a divorce is the best option and agree on most or all details, such as asset division, child support, or alimony.
If one of the parties contests the divorce, this may mean that they agree that a divorce is necessary, but they don’t agree on all the essential information regarding custody, alimony, and more.
Mediation is an appealing process to some couples, as it entails a neutral third party trained to help resolve issues between couples so they can move forward with their divorce plans. Another appealing characteristic is that private matters can remain confidential, rather than discussing or presenting delicate issues in the courtroom. Mediation can also cost less than litigation, or a combination of both may be necessary.
What is a Collaborative Divorce?
Another option in Massachusetts is a Collaborative Divorce. This option is gaining popularity as it is reasonable for those who agree to a divorce and agree to most details of the divorce. Each party works with an attorney, and they have meetings together as a group to determine what is fair and how the future will look.
Both parties agree that they don’t want to go to court other than for the divorce judgment, and all essential matters are handled before this. If you can sit down with your partner and discuss options with full disclosure but can’t come to an agreement, a collaborative divorce may be an excellent option for you.
Again, if privacy is of concern for you or your spouse, this process is appealing as it keeps the delicate details within the walls of the meetings rather than in a courtroom.
Experts such as financial advisers, child psychologists, or business appraisers may also be involved in the process to help determine what is best for each party moving forward.
A New Chapter in Your Life
Divorce or separation is never an easy choice, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or traumatizing experience. With the right people in place, you can rely on a legal professional’s expertise, compassion, and level head to ensure the process remains fair, concise, and in your best interest.
With our unique experience in arbitration, we are skilled at negotiations even in the most complex of situations and can ensure that you and your priorities are well-cared for. Our commitment to peaceful resolution allows you to handle this time of your life with more peace of mind and move into the next chapter of your life with confidence.
Call our office today at (781) 531-8673 for your free case evaluation. We will discuss your situation and learn more about your priorities to determine your best options and then help you pursue them with patience, compassion, and expertise.