The Divorce Process in Massachusetts
The process of divorce can be one of the most trying life experiences that a person will go through. The attorneys at Fields and Dennis LLP have extensive experience in Massachusetts divorce matters including but not limited to alimony, child support, custody, modifications, restraining orders, paternity, interstate support, interstate custody, parenting plans, and removal of children actions.
In a Complaint for Divorce, the following is a brief summary of steps beginning the divorce process:
- File the Complaint
- The Court will issue a Summons.
- The Summons and a copy of the Complaint must be delivered to your spouse in some manner – either by accepting service (where your spouse voluntarily agrees to accept service) or served by sheriff/constable
- Answer to the Complaint. If your spouse files a Complaint first, we will prepare and file an Answer to the Complaint, and we may also file a Counterclaim also asking for a divorce
- Pretrial motions. A motion is a request in writing to the Court. The purpose of filing a Motion is to obtain relief from the Court regarding a particular issue/problem. An example is Motion for Temporary Orders – which once an Order is entered by the Court on Temporary Orders, usually remains in effect until there is a final hearing on your case.
- Financial Statement. Each party to the divorce action must complete his or her financial statement before the Court will enter any financial order or grant a divorce. This is the most important document in a divorce case. The financial statement form is designed to provide the Court with information about each party’s income, needs, assets and liabilities. It must be signed by each party personally, under the pains and penalties of perjury. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for the form to be completed accurately.
- Discovery. The Discovery process is a formal way in which the attorneys attempt to discovery all the facts that are important or relevant to your case prior to your trial/final hearing. Initial Disclosures (also called “Supplemental Rule 410”) must be produced and delivered to the other side within 45 days from the date of service of the summons. The requirements for initial disclosures are extensive and it is an involved process of collecting the appropriate documents covering the past three years. Other methods of discovery include, but is not limited to interrogatories, request for production of documents, depositions and subpoenas for records.
- How a Court Reaches a Decision. In the event that both sides are able to negotiate a settlement, it will be prepared in a written “Separation Agreement.” This Agreement is submitted and filed with the Court, for its review and approval. The Court will review this, together with the parties’ financial statements to determine whether the agreement is fair and reasonable. In the event that a negotiated settlement cannot be reached, then the case will be marked for trial.
- In an Uncontested Divorce the parties may work with a mediator or their attorneys to resolve their issues through negotiations to arrive at a Separation Agreement. The Separation Agreement is submitted and filed with the Court, together with the Joint Petition for Divorce and other ancillary documents for its review and approval. The Court will review this, together with the parties’ financial statements to determine whether the agreement is fair and reasonable.
Contact us: If you are considering divorce or your spouse has filed for divorce in Massachusetts, please contact the Boston metro divorce lawyers at Fields and Dennis LLP for a confidential consultation.
 Intended to be an introductory guideline only. Each divorce case presents different issues and problems.