Before you begin the divorce process, it is best if you are aware of the beginning steps so that you are prepared both financially and emotionally for the changes in your life to come. Before you meet with a divorce lawyer, it is essential that you know what documents you will need and the basic steps involved.
Grounds for Divorce
Massachusetts is both a no-fault divorce state and one that accepts certain grounds or a basis for a divorce. You only need to allege an irretrievable breakdown of the divorce though you can allege certain grounds that include cruel and abusive treatment, adultery, desertion, impotency and incarceration, among others. If you do allege a basis other than an irretrievable breakdown, discuss with a divorce lawyer the consequences of taking this option.
To prepare for the divorce, obtain the following documents:
• Tax returns for the past 3 years
• Mortgage statements
• Most recent pay stubs
• Bank account statements
• List of debts including loan documents for cars or boats or other real estate
• Retirement account statements
• Certified copy of your marriage certificate
• Completion of a financial statement as provided by the court
The Uncontested Divorce
A vital step in the divorce process is to determine if your divorce will be amicable and uncontested or not. If contested, you will need a divorce lawyer to properly prepare for potential litigation or to find areas of compromise and agreement. To so, however, your divorce attorney will need to be fully informed of your financial status and that of your spouse.
If you and your spouse agree on all terms, a separation agreement will need to be drafted. To save time and expense and the possibility of the court rejecting it, have the agreement reviewed by an attorney or have your divorce lawyer prepare it for you. It must be deemed “fair and reasonable” for the court to accept it.
The Contested Divorce
If contested, you should have an attorney representing you to file and serve a summons and complaint along with all applicable documents or to file and serve a response if you are served. A trial date is scheduled for not less than six months from the filing of the initial documents. Divorce litigation, which includes discovery, the drafting of certain orders and preparing your case in the best light possible requires the services of a divorce attorney.
If minor children are involved, you and your spouse will be required to attend separate parenting classes regarding the effect of divorce on your children.
In a contested divorce, any of the parties can ask the court to issue temporary orders or the court will just issue them. If you or your spouse make a motion for temporary orders and there is disagreement, a brief hearing will be held. These orders concern child support, custody, visitation, asset preservation, injunction against incurring further debt and possible orders for protection. Before the hearing on the motion, a pretrial conference will be held with the judge or court representative to get you and your spouse to agree to settle any disputes.
These orders are binding and remain until the court has cause to issue different orders or until there is a final judgment. If there remains areas of dispute, a trial date is scheduled.
In a contested divorce, there will be discovery. This is a pretrial step where the attorneys request that the other party answer questions and provide documentation about their finances and other information regarding the issues in dispute. You and your spouse may be deposed under oath by the opposing attorney and will have to supply written answers to interrogatories, or written questions, and provide documents pursuant to document requests unless validly objected to by the responding party’s attorney.
Retain Boston Divorce Lawyer Doug Lovenberg
Any outcome in a divorce case depends on the individual facts of each case as well as the evidence, the presentation of the evidence and the credibility of the parties. Many times, the competence of your attorney can be a determining factor in whether you obtain a satisfactory result. Doug Lovenberg is a Boston divorce lawyer who has been successfully representing the interests of men and women in divorce cases for years. Contact him today if you are contemplating divorce or a legal separation or have been served by your spouse.