During the process of dissolving a marriage, one of the most unnerving feelings is not knowing what to expect. There may be frustrating delays or not-so-pleasant surprises, for example. Thus, having a general idea of what the steps of a divorce proceeding are can be helpful before embarking on such a journey in Massachusetts.
The first step is for one spouse to have an attorney create a divorce petition, which explains the reason for wanting to get divorced and how issues such as child custody and financial matters should be handled. After the attorney files the legal document with the court system, this complaint is served on the spouse of the petitioner. A summons is included that requires the spouse to respond to the petition.
Once the spouse responds to the petition, the couple can proceed with exchanging documents related to income and assets. At that point, they can begin to decide how to distribute their property as well as address alimony and child support. In some cases, couples can achieve a settlement without further court intrusion by going through the process of mediation.
If mediation is unsuccessful and trial is therefore necessary, a judge will end up deciding how to handle any issues that may have not yet been resolved. These issues may include property division, child custody, visitation and child support, for example. Once these are addressed, the judge will grant the divorce. An attorney in Massachusetts can help to ensure that one’s rights are upheld at all stages of this type of family law proceeding.
Source: findlaw.com, “A Divorce Timeline“, Accessed on June 21, 2017