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What are my options for filing for divorce?

When a Massachusetts couple decides to divorce, they may not have given much thought to what type of divorce is most appropriate for them. It is even possible that they may be unaware that there are multiple categories of divorce that can affect how the process is handled. The two types of divorce available to most couples are either a no-fault or fault divorce.

A fault divorce simply means that one of the parties is considered to be responsible for the divorce. Massachusetts has seven grounds for fault divorce, including issues such as adultery, non-support or jail time of at least 5 years. For a fault divorce, the individual must be able to prove that the grounds they are pursuing a divorce on are entirely valid and true. Compared to a no-fault divorce, this process can take longer and be much more costly.

When neither spouse places blame on the other, the divorce is considered to be no-fault. Therefore, the divorce is filed on the grounds of an irretrievable breakdown of marriage. It is interesting to note that both fault and no-fault divorces can be either contested or uncontested.

In an uncontested divorce, a couple has already reached an agreement in writing concerning important aspects of their divorce, including alimony and child custody. A contested divorce usually results from at least one party being unhappy with some of the terms in the divorce. Although both types of divorce can be filed as either uncontested or contested, a no-fault divorce is categorized as either 1A or 1B. 1A is uncontested, while 1B is contested. At any time during the divorce it is possible to request that the divorce filing be switched from 1B to 1A or vice versa, to reflect any necessary changes.

Couples should first determine whether they intend to file a fault or no-fault divorce. From there, if they can agree to a written division of assets among other important decisions,then it is possible to file uncontested. However, for those in Massachusetts who are unable to do so and must instead file a contested divorce, mediation with a third-party mediator can provide valuable suggestions for the divorce settlement. If a couple is still at odds over the settlement, then they may ultimately proceed to court, where a judge will have the final say over their divorce settlement.

Source: mass.gov, "Divorce", , Aug. 22, 2014

Source: mass.gov, "Divorce", , Aug. 22, 2014

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