There are many complications and nuances when it comes to any divorce or separation. Alimony and child custody are often factors, and details that one may not have even considered may come into play, such as relocation or the fine print of a prenuptial agreement. The primary legal focus of any separation or divorce, however, must be the agreement both parties commit to when ending the relationship.
A separation agreement is one of the necessary documents when processing a divorce in Massachusetts. It must be signed by both parties, and each signature must be notarized. The agreement should address certain criteria; among these are identification and location of parties, marital property, proper provisions for alimony (even if it is not requested by either party), custody, support and maintenance of any minor children, including education and health insurance.
Property additional to the home and other tangible belongings must also be addressed in the agreement. This includes any pension or retirement funds, benefit plans, securities, partnerships and any other real estate either party may own. The division of all of these factors must be discussed if parties have agreed to the distribution as part of the uncontested divorce. If the couple has any debt, the agreement should also include how the responsibility for repaying said debt will be divided.
Proper documentation is also key when obtaining a divorce. In Massachusetts, one must fill out different forms depending on if the divorce is contested. An uncontested divorce needs the following documentation upon filing in addition to the separation agreement:
- Filing fee of $215.00 in the form of a bank or money order, no personal checks
- A Joint Petition for Divorce
- An R408 Form
- A certified copy of the marriage certificate. This must be obtained from the city in which the couple was married.
- An Affidavit attesting to Irretrievable Breakdown. An affidavit is a statement signed under the penalties of perjury setting forth the reasons why the marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown.
- Financial Statements must be completed by both parties.
- Worksheet for Child Support Guidelines if there are minor children of the marriage.
- Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody of a child, if there are any minor children of the marriage.
- Trial Request Form
If one is filing a contested divorce, the steps are a little more complicated but proper documentation is also essential. A filing fee, complaint for divorce, financial statement and other legal documentation must be filed, and the defendant will be summoned has 20 days to answer the complaint. From there, temporary relief can be granted to the filing spouse and pre-trial hearings may be set up.
Whether the a fault or no fault contested divorce, the complaint for divorce must be filed along with proper documentation and if a separation agreement is needed, it must include the same information and provisions as an uncontested divorce. Though the process may seem daunting, it can run smoothly and efficiently if you are properly prepared. The above information as well as many resources provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides a great start, and the guidance of an experienced attorney ensures that you receive a fair process and outcome that you deserve. Contact our office today for a free initial consultation and see how the attorneys at P&P Law can help you through the divorce process.