Divorce Lawyer in Jamaica Plain
Divorce is about so much more than money. It is about the emotional bond with your former partner and your children. It is about redefining the relationships in your life to serve your best self. Divorce is not about the wrongs of the past, it is about creating the best future.
Marriage in Massachusetts is a civil contract sanctioned and authorized by the Massachusetts legislature. Although religious officials are authorized to conduct the solemnization of marriage, the contract of marriage is a civil contract in Massachusetts. Divorce is authorized by the legislature in Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208. Divorce is the dissolution of the marital enterprise or partnership and different sections of Chapter 208 provided for determinations to be made regarding children, assets, and the care and support of spouses (when appropriate).
Massachusetts Divorce Law
Massachusetts provides for an equitable division of assets pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208, Section 34. This division is done by a judge of the Probate and Family Court after considering at least 18 different factors such as the length of the marriage, health of the parties, and contributions of the parties. Contributions as a homemaker are also considered as important as financial contributions. Where the parties share a certain lifestyle while married, the court looks to uphold the lifestyle of the parties and children after the divorce.
How Does the Divorce Process Start?
A divorce begins in one of two ways: a joint petition for divorce or by one spouse filing a complaint for divorce. When a joint petition is filed, the parties have already agreed upon all of the issues and have a settlement agreement. When a complaint for divorce is filed, the parties have not yet determined how to divide all of the property or agreed upon support and/or custody issues.
The joint petition requires that a formal separation agreement be filed with it, which contains all the terms of the divorce, including custody, support, and division of assets, as well as other important items. Parties may reach an agreement by different methods. They may participate in mediation (alternate dispute resolution). They may participate in a collaborative divorce process. Alternatively, a contested divorce may become uncontested at any point in the process and the parties may enter into a divorce agreement at any point in the process.
What is the Timeline for a Divorce?
It depends on many factors. If you and your spouse agree – just a few months. If you and your spouse are not able to agree – 14 months to 2 years is typical.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost?
It depends. We bill hourly for contested divorces, but can sometimes prepare joint petitions for divorce for a flat fee if the parties have already reached an agreement on all issues and no discovery or negotiation is necessary. In this instance, we only represent one party and the other party has an opportunity to consult their own counsel.
What is the Next Step After Someone Has Filed?
The first step you should take is to hire an attorney. The sooner you hire an attorney, the better off you will be. If you need one, call us today. If you’re working with us – welcome aboard!
After a complaint for divorce is filed, the next step is the exchange of financial information (tax returns, bank, investment and retirement account statements). This information is usually, but not always, exchanged before the first court appearance on a motion for temporary orders. Because divorces don’t happen overnight, the parties will want to know what should happen with the children, the cars, the retirement account, and even the family pet while the divorce is pending.