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I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

What is the process for divorce in Massachusetts?

Couples in Springfield, Massachusetts, heading for a divorce should be aware of certain necessary procedures. In Massachusetts, a divorce is generally categorized as "fault" or "no fault." If one spouse is filing for a divorce, it is mandatory to inform the other spouse. A copy of the complaint, a notice and a domestic relations summons is typically sent to or served on the other spouse for informational purposes.

These papers are issued by the court, but it is the responsibility of the spouse who has filed for the divorce to send these papers to the other spouse. Once the papers are served, neither of the spouses can sell nor give away or hide any of their properties, cars or financial holdings without the permission of the court.

If the divorce case is filed under the no-fault uncontested category, the couple may have to submit a joint petition for divorce to the court. They also need to submit a joint affidavit, citing that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, along with a certified copy of their marriage certificate. Before the date of hearing is announced by the court, the couple needs to file their financial statements and parent education certificates, if applicable, as well.

The court issues a divorce order only if the judge is convinced that there indeed has been an irretrievable breakdown of the couple's marriage. That order becomes final 90 days after it is entered by the court. Neither of the spouses may remarry before a period of 120 days has passed after the order is entered.

For fault and no-fault contested cases, the spouse who has been served the divorce papers can file a counterclaim with the court. Here, both the spouses will have to exchange their financial statements and, if they are contesting claims, the court may order a pre-trial hearing to take place.

The attorneys for each spouse will have to submit pre-trial memoranda to the court, setting forth their respective positions after undergoing a process of collecting information from the other party. Witnesses may also be called before the court by the spouses to testify. A hearing date will be scheduled six months after filing the case, unless the court decides otherwise. The judge may accept, reject or amend the separation request, depending on the merits of the case and the evidence that is presented.

Source: Mass.gov, "The Divorce Process," accessed March 27, 2015

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Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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Springfield, MA 01103
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Phone: 413-315-5518
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