Experienced Divorce Attorneys in North Andover, MA

Divorce — Irretrievable Breakdown of a Marriage

In Massachusetts, most Complaints for Divorce and Joint Petitions for Divorce are filed on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or “no-fault”. You may still file a Complaint for Divorce on the basis of “grounds” such as cruel and abusive treatment, or adultery, but this is not typical. Except in extraordinary cases, filing on fault grounds does not generally result in a greater percentage in the division of assets or a higher support award. An experienced Family Law Attorney, such as Patricia S. Fernandez can advise you as to whether filing on fault grounds is helpful to your case.

The Next Steps In Your Divorce

After a Complaint for Divorce is filed, a Summons is issued by the court. The Summons must be “served” to the opposing party by a constable, or service may be accepted by the opposing party’s attorney. There is no advantage to avoiding “being served”. Being “served” is simply a formal mechanism for making sure that the other party understands that a Complaint for Divorce has been filed. There are both advantages and also disadvantages to filing first, should the matter proceed to trial. Filing first can also be a disadvantage at the time of trial.

If the parties file a Joint Petition for Divorce, there is no need to serve the other party, since the divorcing couple has filed the Petition together. A Joint Petition for Divorce is filed along with a Separation Agreement and other collateral pleadings. An experienced Family Law Attorney can assist a client in drafting a Separation Agreement that is fair and reasonable in the eyes of the law.

Once the Summons and the Complaint for Divorce has been served to the opposing party and has been returned to the Court, the divorce can proceed. It is at this point, that many divorcing couples confront questions that are difficult to answer, such as:

  • • I am self-employed. How can I be sure that my business is valued accurately for the purpose of asset division?
  • • Who will pay for the children’s college educations?
  • • How is child support calculated?
  • • I have heard that the alimony laws have changed. How will this affect me?
  • • How can I be sure that my children and I are covered by health insurance?
  • • Who will be responsible for marital debt?
  • • How will we determine the value of our home?
  • • I am not sure exactly what assets we have. How can I discover this information?
  • • What should I do if I think that my spouse is moving assets?
  • • My spouse is due to inherit a substantial amount of money in the future. Is that part of the marital estate?
  • • Are the laws different for same-sex couples?
  • • How will we decide on a parenting plan that works well for everyone?
  • Call us at Patricia S. Fernandez, Family Law, and our legal team will answer your questions and help you to choose the strategy that is right for you.

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