In Massachusetts, a contested divorce is different from what people expect. A contested divorce means a case is opened in the court system before an agreement is reached. There are numerous reasons to file for divorce before, or even while, discussing terms with your spouse, and it can be an excellent strategy to move the negotiations forward or get the court’s assistance. A contested divorce will likely end in a settlement, but if the parties cannot agree to the payment terms, the matter will be trialed.
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 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 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 based on an irretrievable marriage breakdown. A no-fault divorce is the most common in Massachusetts and requires no evidence of the cause.
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 a few advantages to taking this route. A fault-based divorce often proves more complicated and costly to litigate. In a no-fault divorce, you can still introduce evidence of wrongdoing when discussing the division of property, child custody, and other critical issues.
The Divorce Process
One spouse must file a complaint for divorce with the court in the county where the couple last resided together or where either spouse currently lives.
The spouse who files for divorce must 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 called discovery. They may request records, ask for written answers, 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 going to trial. When parties can settle issues independently, they have much more control over the outcome than if they wait for a judge’s ruling, which may disappoint both.
Get the Advice and Advocacy You Need During a Contested Divorce
Divorce 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. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation.