iaml international academy of matrimonial lawyersAmerican College of Family Trial LawyersAmerican Academy AAML of Matrimonial Lawyers





The Divorce Process

The goal of the legal process of divorce is to end the marriage and decide such issues as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony (sometimes called spousal support or maintenance), property and debt division and attorney's fees and costs. A divorce judgment can be based on an agreement between the parties or result from a trial. An agreement is usually less traumatic for you and your children, and less expensive than a trial. Ultimately, most cases are resolved without a trial.

Divorce Proceedings

The divorce process varies from state to state. What procedures are available and how long the process lasts is unique to each state's court system. Your lawyer can explain how the process works in your state. [However, in general, the following milestones and issues illustrates the divorce process:]*

  • The Petition
  • The Response
  • Temporary Orders
  • Discovery
  • Negotiated Settlement
  • Trial
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Your Conduct
  • After the Divorce
    • Modification
    • Enforcement
    • Omitted Property


    Financial Statements required in Massachusetts

    If you are the Plaintiff, Defendant or Petitioner in a Divorce, Separate Support, Paternity, Modification or Contempt case or any other case involving alimony, child support or division of property;

    Links to Massachusetts Financial Statements

    Short Form for income under $75,000  and instructions

    Longform for income over $75,000  and instructions

    The Financial Statement is one of the most important papers that you file with the Court and is part of the Discovery process. The judge will make important decisions based on the information that you write down.  Fill out the form completely and truthfully. Your signature indicates that the information you provide is true to the best of your knowledge. Since you are signing under the penalties of perjury, untrue statements can lead to criminal prosecution.

    Additional statements need to be filed if you/spouse have rental income or are self-employed. You should consult an attorney or the State of Massachsetts websites if you have any questions.



    How long will my divorce take?

    That depends on a lot of things. Every divorce is different. Factors that can make a difference include the schedules of both parties, both lawyers and the court, the cooperation of witnesses, the speed of the appraisers, and the complexity of the case. While most divorce cases are settled some do go to trial.



    If you and your spouse cannot settle your case, it will go to trial. At trial you each tell your story to the judge. It is told through your testimony, the testimony of other witnesses, and documents called exhibits.

    Trial is likely to be expensive and unpleasant. However, it can be the only alternative to never-ending unreasonable settlement demands. Still, trials are risky. No lawyer can predict the outcome of a trial because every case is different. A judge, a stranger -- possibly with a viewpoint, temperament and values very different from yours -- tells you and your spouse how to reorder your lives, divides your income and assets, and dictates when each of you may see your children.

    Sometimes, a trial does not end the case. Each party may, within a limited period of time, appeal to a higher court. An appeal adds more time and expense to the divorce process and is hard to win.