The cost of getting a divorce in Massachusetts gets more expensive the less cooperation there is between spouses. The least expensive type of divorce is when a couple submits a joint petition in which no children are involved. In this case, the only fee that may have paid will be to the court when filing the joint petition. If there are children involved, there will probably be an additional fee.
Costs for filing a petition jointly or singly vary from county to county. Regardless of the amount, the process in every county is similar enough to help you create a rough budget of how much a divorce cost in Massachusetts. If you are filing a petition against another person, they must be formally served with a copy of the complaint before the case can proceed. Spouses who do not wish to do this themselves will have to pay a fee to a sheriff’s office or process server for this service.
Once the spouse is presented with a copy of the complaint, they may choose to file an official response disputing any part of the divorce statement. They will be charged an additional fee for this paperwork. Be sure to distinguish between expenses charged to one person and costs shared by a couple when creating an estimate of how much does a divorce in Massachusetts in your type of case.
Some people may want to consider sharing the expense of an attorney with experience in divorce mediation who will provide neutral advice and legal expertise. If no agreement can be reached and the case must be heard by a judge, this attorney cannot represent either spouse.
Whether drafted voluntarily by a couple or with the help of a mediator or attorney, separation agreements should explain how in detail how couples plan to handle:
• Child custody arrangements
• Alimony payments
• Child support payments
• The payment of shared debts
• Division of mutual property
At any point in the proceedings, one or both spouses may decide to retain private legal counsel. Divorce attorneys may charge a flat fee or an hourly rate depending on the nature of their services, which will make up the bulk of your budget when estimating how much a divorce cost in Massachusetts does. When consulting with any divorce attorney, obtain a detailed, written estimate of how many hours of work your case will take to prepare for and what the final charges will be.
Child support payments will be determined by following official state guidelines. However, a judge may choose to alter the standard payment if:
• The parent who must make the payments does not have sufficient financial resources to honor this commitment
• The non-custodial parent must spend unusually large amounts for visitation purposes
When considering whether to award alimony to a petitioning spouse, Massachusetts judges will take into consideration:
• The age, health, occupation and income of both spouses
• The length of the marriage
• Property belonging to either spouse
• Both parties’ behavior during the marriage
In all cases, the judge is the final person to determine how much a divorce cost in Massachusetts.