The dissolution of the marriage of husband and wife or a marriage of same sex spouses.
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.
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:]*
*Note- In red are approaches to settlement -and may be applied concurrently.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 these must be presented to the court;
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 Massachusetts 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. However in order to file for divorce in Massachusetts you need to meet residency requirements.
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.
Summary of State Law and Questions