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Contested Divorce in Massachusetts

Contested Divorce in Massachusetts

What is a Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce is a more complex form of divorce.

In the United States, there are typically two forms of divorce: an uncontested divorce and a contested divorce. With an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on all issues pertaining to the divorce filing; whereas in an uncontested divorce, the spouses cannot come to an agreement on one or many of the issues surrounding the perspective divorce settlement.

The issues that may lead to a contested divorce filing may include spousal support, child custody, and the division of debts and/or marital property. Because of the disagreement, the divorce proceeding is complicated and extended in a contested divorce filing.

In a contested divorce, the spouses will go through a number of legal steps before the divorce is affirmed. Following the delivery of the divorce petition—and the subsequent response by the receiving spouse—the discovery phase and prospective settlement occur.

During the settlement, the spouses are often unable to resolve their issues. Although lawyers and the presiding divorce judge may encourage the spouses to come to an agreement, a contested divorce often ends up in divorce court.

During the trial, each spouse will present their case. This legal battle will often include witness testimonials, cross-examinations—conducted by each spouse’s divorce lawyer—and closing arguments.

After the trial is over, the presiding divorce court judge will construct a final order and finalize the divorce to the terms as he/she sees fit.

In a contested divorce, the settlement is established by the presiding divorce court judge.

After a review of the spouse’s financial records, testimonies offered by spouses, witness testimonials, and any available police or medical records, the judge will determine how the couple’s debts, assets, and future wages are divided.

The evidence presented in a contested divorce filing establishes a fair division of debts and assets and the best interests of the child of the marriage.

Contested Divorce in Massachusetts:

The Main Steps to a Contested Divorce in Massachusetts are as follows:

 1. A contested divorce in Massachusetts begins when one spouse files a “Complaint about Divorce” with their local Probate and Family Court. The spouse filing the complaint in a contested divorce in Massachusetts is referred to as the Plaintiff.

The complaint—along with a summons and track assignment (notice which specifies what judge is assigned to the case)—is delivered or “served” to the other spouse, who is the acting defendant in a contested divorce in Massachusetts.

In addition to this paperwork, a copy of Rule 411 is delivered to the defendant; this form is a financial restraining order that automatically goes into effect.

2. The defendant or their acting lawyer will answer the complaint within 20 days and forward a copy of the answer to the appropriate court and the opposing divorce lawyer.

3. After the defendant responds, the contested divorce in Massachusetts enters a pre-trial phase. This stage of the contested divorce in Massachusetts is referred to as the discovery period.

During discovery, each side will collect the pertinent information required to prepare a divorce filing.

Discovery methods in a contested divorce in Massachusetts include: Exchanging financial documents, medical/police reports, depositions, requests for admissions, and interrogatories.

4. Temporary Orders and Motions: Divorce lawyers often file motions with the presiding divorce court. A motion is a request—filed with the court—that formally begins the divorce hearing.

There are several types of motions; however, in a contested divorce in Massachusetts, a temporary order will typically be filed.

5. If child custody issues are being disputed, the Court will appoint a GAL or Ad Litem to conduct an investigation regarding visitation and custody. The appointed GAL or Ad Litem will interview parents, teachers, caregivers, and sometimes the children.

6. Pre-Trial Conference: If a contested divorce in Massachusetts remains unsettled, a pre-trial will be held at the presiding divorce court.

Here, the divorce lawyers will submit Pre-trial Memorandums before the meeting to outline what issues are in dispute, and which have been tentatively agreed to if any.

This conference also gives each side the opportunity to get some feedback on their positions.

7. The Trial: In Massachusetts, less than 10% of divorce cases reach this stage. For that contested divorce in Massachusetts that cannot be settled, a trial will commence before a judge.

Testimonies will be provided by the couple’s witnesses and the Judge will issue a decision—the decision is rendered a number of days after the trial date.

After the judge issues the decision, there is a waiting period of 90 days for a contested divorce in Massachusetts. During this waiting period, the divorce is regarded as “pending”—after the 90-day period passes, the divorce is finalized.

What Are The Difficulties With Contested Divorce

What Are The Difficulties With Contested Divorce

In uncontested divorce proceedings, couples agree on the distribution of property, assets, and issues that relate to children.

In contrast, contested divorce proceedings result from a lack of agreement between a couple that is getting divorced.

In some contested divorce proceedings, only one spouse is seeking a divorce. In a contested divorce, spouses are unable to agree on all, or some of the issues generally involved in a divorce.

Oftentimes, spouses with children are unable to agree on the terms for child support, child custody, and child visitation. In addition, some couples cannot decide on an equitable distribution of marital property and debt.

Contested divorces generally take a long time, require a lot of money, and involve undue stress for spouses and any children involved. In fact, contested divorces can take years to reach a resolution.

In contested divorces, one spouse is required to file a petition for divorce and serve the petition to the other spouse in a legally acceptable manner. In most states, a spouse that fails to respond to the petition is found in default, and a judge will grant a default settlement of divorce.

However, most contested divorces end up with the spouses battling for assets and other marital issues present in divorce proceedings. In contested divorces, divorce proceedings can be very time consuming, and dissolution of a marriage often takes quite a long time.

In fact, contested divorce proceedings often take years to resolve. Divorce proceedings that take that much time can cause vast amounts of stress for spouses and their families.

In addition, couples involved in contested divorce proceedings often end up spending greater amounts of money that were involved in the original dispute.

In fact, contested divorce proceedings involve many billable hours for both spouse’s attorneys, which can end up costing the couple a fortune. However, a larger issue in contested divorces is parental rights regarding any children that resulted from the marriage.

Generally, spouses have disputes about custody, visitation, and decision-making ability in regards to the children’s upbringing. In fact, cases involving children are generally the divorce proceedings that require the most time and attention.

Disputes regarding child support are often decided as a separate issue by the court.

Contested divorces can end up costing couples more money than the inherent value of their respective assets. In addition, children become resentful and often feel abandoned while their parents take the time to battle in court.

Children do much better when their parents work together to reach a resolution. In addition, the overall health of spouses involved in contested divorces is generally put in jeopardy because of the stress and constant disagreement.

It is also difficult for parents to work toward a joint effort in raising their children in the best manner possible when they were unable to come to agreements during the divorce.

Battles that result from divorce often carry over into their lives once the divorce has been granted.

Contested divorces often cause resentment for families that are already struggling with their new lives; couples that can take part in uncontested divorces, fair much better long term than couples who cannot reach a resolution on their own.

What You Need to Know About the Surrounding Issues On Contested Divorce

What You Need to Know About the Surrounding Issues On Contested Divorce

Contested divorces often take years to reach a resolution.

In fact, couples are left in limbo while racking up on both sides.

While they generally decide on temporary orders for issues that relate to, such as child support and custody, other issues are left unresolved until the divorce is finalized.

In addition, children involved in contested divorces are also left in limbo, getting used to one arrangement in the midst of the possibility that the arrangement will change.

Temporary orders are fairly consistent with permanent decisions by the courts, but not always. In a contested divorce, couples are unable to resolve issues related to the divorce, such as alimony, custody, and distribution of debts and assets.

In some cases, neither spouse will have access to certain assets until the divorce is granted and a resolution of all issues has been reached. In some instances, this makes some spouses unable to afford, granting an unfair advantage to the other spouse.

Couples involved in contested divorces, often cannot come to an agreement because of the many issues involved in the divorce. In fact, many couples get divorced because they suffer from a lack of communication in their relationship.

If couples were unable to communicate when they were together, they will certainly be unable to do so during a divorce. Some contested divorces involve one spouse that does not wish to get divorced, and that spouse is, therefore, more likely to fight during the proceedings.

In fact, spouses that do not wish to get divorced are likely to be very bitter, and they may wish to get revenge on the spouse who has opted to leave. These battles often involve children and all child-related issues.

Couples involved in a contested divorce often find that they become angry with each other, placing a bigger wedge in their relationship. Often, that bitterness and resentment are felt by all family members.

In fact, children may begin to place blame on one or both parents. Unfortunately, families that experience a contested divorce often find that they are not as close as they once were. In fact, parents sometimes try to turn their children against the other parent.

In general, contested divorces are detrimental to the health and well being of all involved parties.

If families can reach a resolution in the absence of court intervention, they tend to adjust to all new changes in a much more effective manner, and they generally experience increased support from, other family members.

Contested divorces often prolong the stress and heartache associated with the break up of any family. In fact, a contested divorce often leads to a family growing apart and feeling resentment towards each other.

Spouses involved in this type of divorce often find it impossible to remain amicable and it is always better when couples can come to a mutual understanding about their divorce and all issues associated with it.