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Divorce FAQs

Answers from our Experienced Salem, MA Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering divorce, you probably have questions. My name is Attorney Kevin Prendergast and I have over 15 years of experience as a Salem divorce attorney. I will be able to answer your specific questions in more detail in person. Do not hesitate to contact KRP Law, LLC to discuss your case and how I can help you today.

The following are answers to a few commonly asked questions. These are designed to help you understand the process, repercussions and requirements of divorce in the state of Massachusetts better.

Massachusetts Divorce: Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What are the requirements for filing divorce?

Answer: There are several different elements that the courts of Massachusetts accept as grounds for divorce:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Impotence
  • Adultery
  • Cruel or abusive treatment
  • Alcohol or drug addiction
  • Imprisonment for over five years
  • Desertion without support for over one year
  • Nonsupport of the able spouse for the other

Question: How long does the divorce process take?

Answer: The duration of every divorce case varies as there are many different issues to be resolved in each. If both parties are able to come to agreement on all elements of divorce, file a joint petition for divorce and if both parties show up to the hearing at the appointed time, the court could grant a divorce within one month of you filing your petition. Contact my firm to discuss your specific case and how I will be able to help you.

Question: Can I file for divorce even if my spouse does not want it?

Answer: in the state of Massachusetts you can file a petition for divorce without the consent of your spouse, they are unable to prevent you from doing this, however the process will generally be much longer and there will be additional fees that you may have to pay.

Question: Do I need an attorney?

Answer: It is not a legal requirement for you to retain an attorney in order to go through the divorce process. However, without legal representation you could find that you end up with unchangeable and highly undesirable arrangements for issues like child custody or visitation.

Question: What kind of attorney should I look for?

Answer: The best attorneys are those who understand the court system, are able to get to the root issues in a divorce process in order to obtain your goals and desirable arrangements, and are both compassionate as to your needs as well as aggressive in a courtroom setting.

Question: What is the difference between a "fault" and "no fault" divorce?

Answer: In a fault divorce, the plaintiff (spouse that filed for divorce) must prove that the defendant (the other spouse) did something wrong that allows grounds for a divorce. In a no-fault divorce, you do not have to prove fault on either side. The only thing that must be made evident in order to grant the divorce, is that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the two parties have irreconcilable differences.

Question: What are temporary orders?

Answer: Typically in a divorce case, the two parties are not able to agree and cooperate, so the court will issue temporary orders until the final judgment of the divorce has been entered. Temporary orders are only in place while the divorce is pending, they will be replaced by the final verdict or judgment of the court. Orders of this nature are put in place for issues such as:

  • Who will live in the house until the divorce is final
  • which parent has primary custody of the children
  • When can the other parent come and visit the children
  • Which spouse needs to be paying child or spousal support to the other
  • Who gets to hold onto the furniture, the cars and other major assets

Question: What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?

Answer: A contested divorce is where the two parties are unable to come to a mutual agreement in regards to the terms and conditions of the divorce such as custody, property division, child support and things of that nature. When the spouses cannot cooperate and agree, that usually means they will have to wait for a court date and settle the matter in trial. An uncontested divorce is much simpler. The two parties already agree on all aspects of the divorce agreement and they put it all in writing for the judge to approve. Even if one aspect is not agreed upon, then the divorce is considered contested.

Question: Where do I file for the divorce?

Answer: The filing location is referred to as the "venue." In Massachusetts, all divorce cases are filed in the Probate and Family Court. The right venue will be determined on the county of the residence in which you last lived together as husband and wife. If both spouses have since moved to separate counties, then they can file in the county that either of them currently live.

Question: In a divorce, how will the property and assets be divided?

Answer: There is no "one size fits all" answer to this question because every case is so different. One thing is for certain and that is that in the state of Massachusetts, the longer you are married, the better chance there is that the property will be divided 50/50. With shorter marriages, the courts strive to put people as close as possible to how their lives were before the marriage. This does not mean however, that anything you had going into the marriage is not subject to division. When diving assets and property, the courts will also take marital fault into consideration. For further information look up the Massachusetts State code Chapter 208 section 24 or contact my firm for a free consultation.

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advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not
constitute, an attorney-client relationship.