Divorce is never easy. Preparing for a divorce can be one of the most stressful times that a family will endure. At Magaletta & McCarthy, we aim to ease this stress; our understanding and knowledgeable attorneys will inform you of your rights, and guide you through the divorce process.
What is the divorce process like? How long will it take?
Typically, one spouse files a complaint for divorce and that complaint is served upon the other spouse, who must then file his or her answer with the court within twenty days. Massachusetts’s family courts have time standards in all divorces. The usual track is about 14 months, although this time could be shorter or may be longer, depending on the particular circumstances of each individual case. During this time, “temporary orders” are usually entered with the court so that each side’s rights are protected until a final resolution is reached. Temporary orders may relate to child support, visitation, provisions for health insurance, or other issues that are important to the parties involved. In order to decide this, the court requires all of the relevant financial data from your marriage. Both parties will have to complete a financial statement before any orders are entered on their behalf.
Also at this time, all parties in a divorce action in which there are minor children are ordered by the Family Court to attend an approved Parent Education Program. This program is mandatory unless waived by the Court.
During the discovery process, both parties will attempt to discover information from the other party. If needed, depositions, interrogatories, and business or real estate evaluations may take place so that a fair and informed settlement of the parties’ assets can be reached. During this time, it is always the primary goal to reach an Agreement between the parties.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement after that, the case will be scheduled for trial. At the trial, both parties and their lawyers present evidence to a judge by way of documents and testimony from the parties and other witnesses. The judge will then make final decisions on property division, alimony, child support, and child custody. At any time before trial, the parties can always reach an agreement and avoid going to trial. This is the most cost-effective and peaceful solution and is always the primary goal at our office.
Another way to become divorced is when the parties are able work out their differences (either by negotiating between themselves or by having their lawyers negotiate for them) then their lawyers can draft an agreement for the parties to review and sign. After the separation agreement is signed, both parties file a “Joint Petition” for divorce, where they ask the Court to approve their agreement and grant them a divorce. It usually takes about six weeks after a date is requested until you will go to court for the hearing. The divorce hearing itself is generally short. The judge makes sure that the agreement is “fair and reasonable” and that both parties understand that they will be bound by the terms in their agreement. After the hearing, there will be a 30-day “nisi” or waiting period. The divorce will be final in either 90 or 120 days after that.
Attorneys at Magaletta & McCarthy handle the most sophisticated issues relating to divorce, including: important taxation issues; spousal support; and the evaluation and equitable distribution of property.
We are able to protect the rights of our clients whether settlements are reached in or out of divorce court. If you are going through a divorce or custody battle, contact our office immediately. We can discuss your case with you and make this time less difficult for your family.