Every marriage is different, so it makes sense that couples divorcing in Massachusetts have several different options for bringing their marriage to a close. An experienced divorce attorney can review your situation and goals and help you make the right choices to meet your needs.
Fault vs. No-Fault
When researching divorce alternatives in Massachusetts, one of the first questions that arises is whether to pursue a divorce based on fault-based grounds or opt for a no-fault divorce. This is usually an easy choice because there are virtually no advantages to filing for a fault-based divorce. The judge will not look on your cause any more favorably, and you can introduce evidence of wrongdoing in the context of other areas if necessary.
Contested vs. Uncontested
An uncontested divorce is the simplest type of divorce to file in Massachusetts. But the process of preparing for an uncontested divorce can be anything but simple. When a divorce is uncontested, it means both spouses agree on every term associated with the divorce, from dividing assets and debts to child custody and visitation schedules. If there is any disagreement about anything, then the divorce must be filed as contested.
Lawyers often help couples resolve issues in advance so they can file an uncontested divorce. If a couple files for a contested divorce, they can still negotiate a resolution, but if they do not, the judge will make the decisions.
Litigation vs. Out-of-Court Settlement
The traditional approach to divorce involves litigation in court. Attorneys for each spouse present their best arguments to persuade a judge that their client should gain their objectives. The process leading up to litigation can be lengthy and expensive, and court costs and legal fees while the case is argued in court add still more. This option should be a last resort for many couples. If one spouse refuses to cooperate or tries to bully the other, litigation may be the only way to achieve a fair outcome.
Attorney-assisted settlement is an option that protects both parties’ interests while avoiding the delays, drama, and expense of litigation. In this situation, each spouse is represented by their own attorney, and they meet together to develop a plan that satisfies both. Some attorneys refer to this process as collaborative divorce.
A third approach to divorce involves mediation. Both spouses work with a neutral mediator who guides them through the process of developing agreements on all the issues involved. The mediator is often trained as an attorney but does not give legal advice to further the interests of either party. For that reason, couples who resolve their differences through mediation usually also work with an attorney who can advise them of their rights and help formulate options to meet their goals.
Finally, some couples choose to handle matters entirely on their own to keep costs down. While this obviously saves on legal fees in the short term, often people who handle divorce terms entirely on their own later find out that they have lost out on key rights or sacrificed interests in property that was rightfully theirs. If couples handling their own divorce do not follow legal requirements and procedures properly, they may end up with invalid agreements that a court will not approve. This delays the divorce process considerably.
Find the Best Options for Your Circumstances with the Help of an Experienced Divorce Lawyer
The terms of a divorce settlement impact your life far into the future. It is wise to make sure you understand your rights and how to protect your interests before signing an agreement.
Whether you are just starting to consider divorce or are in the midst of the process, advice from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer can save you considerable stress and heartache. Talk to the dedicated team at Koiles Pratt Family Law Group today to learn more about how we could help protect your future.