Divorce Law in Massachusetts
How to Find a Massachusetts Divorce Attorney
Massachusetts born Dr. Seuss has the absolute best quotes. This is the one we picked to kick off this article:
I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!
We're thinking that if you're considering divorce and are researching Massachusetts divorce lawyers, you could likely relate. If so, this article is for you.
In this article (which is based upon Massachusetts divorce law), we'll discuss:
- Massachusetts specific divorce law requirements;
- What you need to know about divorce, in general;
- Whether it's in your best interest to hire a Massachusetts divorce attorney;
- How to find and select a qualified lawyer; and
- How to prepare to work with your lawyer.
Massachusetts Divorce Law Specifics
- If the actions that are the grounds for divorce took place on Massachusetts soil, either you or your spouse must be a resident of Massachusetts.
- If the grounds for the divorce took place elsewhere, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Massachusetts for at least 1 year, immediately prior to the divorce filing.
Massachusetts law requires that divorce filings include the grounds for divorce. The filer can file for a "no-fault" or "fault" divorce.
- No-fault means that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
- Fault means that a spouse is "guilty" of adultery, impotence, drunkenness or drug use, desertion, cruelty and abuse, or the failure to support.
- Massachusetts divorce law terms, which identify you and your spouse, are "petitioner" and "respondent" in a no-fault divorce and "plaintiff" and "defendant" in a fault divorce.
- Divorce filings are made in The Trial Court, The Probate and Family Court Department Division.
- Property distribution will be equitable, which means, "fair", not necessarily equal.
- Spousal support (i.e. alimony) may be awarded in some cases and child support in based upon the Percentage of Income formula.
What You Need to Know About Divorce in a Nutshell
This is good advice no matter your state and individual situation. Consider how you'd apply each of these points in your own life.
- Never hire a shark attorney. Though you need good legal advice, select a divorce attorney who will work collaboratively and cooperatively, encouraging you and your spouse to work out a marital settlement agreement (and avoid court, if possible).
- Going to court is a complete loss of control, further antagonizes all parties involved, causes increased stress, and costs a lot of money.
- Know that if you communicate, collaborate, cooperate, compromise, and follow your attorney's direction, you will pay minimum legal fees and get more of what you want in the divorce.
- Neither your divorce attorney, nor your children, is your therapist.
Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with a Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer?
Yes; but, what do you think? What would one mistake cost you?
Will a mistake cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars? Your home? Your retirement savings? Time with your children? Marital rights? What if you made two mistakes?
You always have the legal right to represent yourself in a Massachusetts divorce; however, it's not likely the best choice for you or anyone else. Even attorneys who go through divorce hire their own divorce lawyers.
How to Find and Select a Massachusetts Divorce Attorney
The easiest and fastest way to find an appropriate attorney is to do an online search for "How to Find a Massachusetts Divorce Attorney" or ask friends and family for referrals.
Here are top 3 most important lawyer qualifications to help you make your selection. Select a lawyer who:
- Practices divorce and family law. (Divorce/family law should be the focus of his or her practice because attorneys are not all the same.)
- Has a "collaboration" mindset. (An attorney who wants to "make your spouse pay" may sound on target, but it will cost you in the end.)
- Will help you keep your legal fees and stress level to a minimum.
Be sure to have a conversation with an attorney before making a hiring decision. Your comfort level is of the utmost importance.
How to Prepare to Work with Your Divorce Attorney
Preparation to work with your divorce attorney is twofold: Mindset and financials. Both are important.
Your attorney needs the numbers to give you good advice; and, you need the proper mindset to follow that advice and make good decisions.
- Mindset: Cooperation, communication, collaboration, and compromise are the paths to the ultimate goals of keeping your sanity, getting a fresh start, protecting your children, and not wasting all of your money on legal fees and anger.
- Mindset: Consider reconciliation. Is your marriage truly irretrievably broken for the long run? You may feel differently as time passes and the option of divorce will always be there.
- Mindset: Meet with a therapist to deal with the emotional aspects of divorce. As mentioned, children and divorce attorneys are not your therapists.
- Financial: Gather and organize financial documents stating all income, expenses, debts, and assets. Income tax returns and financial statements are a good place to start.
- Mindset/Financial: Create a wish list of everything you would like in the divorce. Indicate which items "must" stay and which belong in the "it would be nice" category.
- Keeping in mind the recommended mindset and financial issues, make a list of questions to address with your lawyer at your next telephone conference.
We hope this article gives you a step in whichever direction is right for you. We'll end with what may be the best quote for anyone going through a divorce or struggles.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...
Local Divorce Attorneys
- East Longmeadow
- Fall River
- Great Barrington