How do I get a divorce?
First, you and your spouse need to determine which type of proceeding is most appropriate for your circumstances. You can get a divorce in Massachusetts by filing a uncontested divorce along with your spouse or by filing a contested divorce on your own.
To file for an uncontested divorce, both spouses must be in agreement on all issues related to the divorce. This can be accomplished by entering into a separation agreement which describes in detail how any children will be raised, how any property/debt will be divided, and whether one spouse will financially support the other going forward. An attorney can help you negotiate the terms of the separation agreement, complete the necessary forms, and file the uncontested divorce petition.
However, if your or your spouse are unable to agree on some or any of the issues related to your divorce, then you will have to proceed with a contested divorce. This process usually begins when one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce, along with any necessary Motions. The parties will then have to exchange Discovery Documents, attend preliminary Hearings and, if necessary, proceed to Trial for the Judge to determine any remaining issues.
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
Everyone has the legal right to represent themselves. However, it is generally a good idea to hire an attorney given the numerous technical, procedural, and substantive issues which will need to be addressed. A simple mistake or an issue which is overlooked can easily cost you thousands of dollars in the long run. An experienced attorney will properly present the issues to the court, and can also draft appropriate language in a Separation Agreement so that all of your rights will be properly protected.
How much will my divorce cost?
The total cost of a divorce will generally depend on how much you and your spouse can agree. For an uncontested divorce, the filing fee is $215 and our legal fee ranges from $750 to $1,000.
For a contested divorce, the initial filing fee is $220, but there can be additional costs for service of process, subpoenas, depositions, trial preparation, and expert witnesses. Legal fees for contested divorces tend to be more open ended because it is very difficult to determine from the outset how much time will be spent on your case. Our legal fee is billed at an hourly rate for the time spent on your case, and the initial retainer is based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case.
How long will it take to get a divorce?
This will also depend on whether you and your spouse can agree on the issues. If the two of you can enter into a comprehensive separation agreement and file together for an uncontested divorce, then you can obtain a final hearing and judgment within 30 to 90 days. However, if the parties cannot agree on the issues, a contested divorce can take anywhere from 6 months to over 2 years.
If you want your divorce to move forward quickly, we can help you negotiate a fair agreement on the issues. If your spouse is being unreasonable and is not willing to negotiate in good faith, we will help you progress through the contested track quickly through targeted discovery, clear temporary orders, and an expedited trial.