In Massachusetts, a contested divorce is not necessarily what people expect. A contested divorce means that a case is opened in the court system before an agreement is reached. There are numerous reasons to file for the divorce before, or even while, discussing terms with your spouse, and it can a good strategy to move the negotiations forward or to get assistance from the court. A contested divorce will likely end in a settlement, but if the parties are unable to agree to the terms of a settlement, then the matter will proceed to a trial.
However, that does not mean the process needs to be hostile. At Reade Law Firm, PC, we work to resolve areas of contention without unnecessary drama. We educate our clients about their rights and their options, and work toward the best path forward. When we can resolve issues outside of court, we can save time and money and reduce the trauma that is associated all too often with divorce. And when a settlement cannot be reached, we have the skill and knowledge to take the matter to trial.
Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce
A contested divorce can be a no-fault divorce. In that situation, the parties file for divorce on the basis of an irretrievable breakdown of their marriage. A no-fault divorce is the most common in Massachusetts, and requires no evidence of the cause of the divorce.
If you want to file for divorce on fault-based grounds, the law gives you seven potential grounds for divorce:
- Cruel and abusive treatment
However, even when you have one of these reasons to file for a fault-based divorce, there are usually few advantages to taking this route. A fault-based divorce often just proves more complicated and costly to litigate. In a no-fault divorce, you can still introduce evidence of wrongdoing when it comes time to discuss division of property, child custody, and other critical issues.
The Divorce Process
One spouse will need to file a complaint for divorce with the court in the county where the couple last resided together, or where either one spouse currently lives.
The spouse who files for divorce will need to ensure that the other spouse is served with a summons, and then the other spouse has 20 days to file an answer. That puts the case into the pretrial period. Parties will exchange mandatory documents, then may submit formal requests for additional information referred to as discovery. They may request documents, ask for written answers to questions, or schedule a deposition where questions are asked and answered verbally under oath.
The parties can also negotiate during this period, and if they reach an agreement on the necessary terms, they can complete the divorce process without the need to go to trial. When parties are able to settle issues on their own, they have much more control over the outcome than if they wait for a judge’s ruling, which may end up disappointing both of them.
Get the Advice and Advocacy You Need During a Contested Divorce
The divorce process can bring out the worst in people, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Let the knowledgeable team at Reade Law Firm, PC empower you to find your best way forward during and after the divorce. We help you achieve the objectives that mean the most to you while preserving your peace of mind.
Schedule a consultation and start moving ahead.