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What steps do I take to get a divorce in Massachusetts?

Spouses who would like to get a divorce may be unsure about what the basic legal steps are. To begin, both parties must be legal residents of Massachusetts in order to get a divorce there. As long as that requirement is met, a spouse may file a petition for divorce citing fault or no-fault grounds.

When an individual files the divorce papers, copies of those papers must be mailed to or otherwise served on their spouse. If the recipient wishes to object to any of the information in the divorce papers, they will have an opportunity to contest the divorce by filing their own papers. If the recipient has no objections to the information, they will simply sign the paperwork and mail it back.

When the spouse who is served with the divorce papers has objections, both spouses will have to appear in court to sort out the disagreements. A divorce may be considered uncontested if the spouse who is served the divorce papers does not respond within a certain amount of time. During the divorce process, a court hearing or divorce mediation may be required to work out agreements about property division and child custody.

A spouse who is going through a divorce may need legal representation in order to maintain ownership of their valuable assets. If children are involved, a spouse may have an even greater need to seek the help of a family law attorney in order to deal with support and custody issues. Although child custody and visitation orders may be modified later on, the divorce order will set a precedent for those issues that could be hard to change.

Source: Women's Law, "Divorce", December 19, 2014

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