How Can I Get a Divorce in Massachusetts?
There are two ways to get divorced in Massachusetts that are important to understand for anyone wanting to know how to get a Massachusetts divorce.
- Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce in Massachusetts is called a 1A Divorce.
The two spouses will make all their decisions about their divorce – financial and parenting – and submit their decisions to the court for approval. This usually involves one hearing with the judge and is the last step in the divorce negotiation process.
A contested divorce in Massachusetts is called a 1B Divorce.
Typically, one spouse will initiate the divorce proceedings by filing. The complaint for divorce and summons are served on the other spouse. A series of court appearances then occur. During this process some divorces settle out of court. Others end in a litigated trial.
Divorce Professionals in Massachusetts
During a 1A uncontested divorce the spouses negotiate the terms of their divorce. They can do this on their own, or with the help of a third party like a divorce mediator. They can also pursue a team approach to their divorce negotiations called Collaborative Law.
During a 1B contested divorce one or both spouses are represented by an attorney who negotiates on their behalf. Spouses may also represent themselves, or go pro se, which is the legal term for self-representation. The contested divorce will either settle out of court or end in litigation.
How to Know When an Uncontested Divorce Mediation Approach is Right for You
If any of the sentiments below resonate mediation might be worth exploring:
- I don’t want this process to create any more conflict for the kids
- I don’t care what a judge thinks about my marriage, I want to make the decisions
- I know I need help but I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg
- I don’t want this divorce to take forever
- I just want us to end this process on decent terms
- I just want us both to be fair to each other
- I just want out of this marriage as soon as possible without creating more ill will
Can we handle our divorce on our own?
Yes, although proceed with caution to be sure the court will approve your agreement. Handling divorce on your own is most successful for extremely short-term marriages with no children and minimal assets.
What if I don’t feel safe?
Speak to your mediator or attorney right away if there are safety issues.
If you fear harm due to domestic violence consult with a family law attorney and your local community resources immediately.
- Mass Legal Help: Separation and Divorce When There is Domestic Violence
- National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233
Divorce Mediation in Massachusetts
For the vast majority of couples who want to negotiate in good faith; save time, money and heartache; have more control over the outcome of the divorce negotiation; and set the stage for more effective co-parenting, mediation is worth exploring.