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Divorce Process FAQs

Divorce Process FAQs

Do you have divorce Questions?

We have compiled a list of questions we hear regularly from our clients regarding the divorce process and have provided the answers below.

The timeline for your divorce is going to depend on your unique circumstances.  If you and your spouse are able to agree on issues such as child custody and property division, your divorce will move faster. Once the judgment of divorce enters, it will not become final for 90 days. On contested cases the Massachusetts court has a “tracking system” for divorces. Under the tracking system, Massachusetts divorces are assigned to the 14 Month track. That means that the divorce case should go to trial, be settled, or dismissed within 14 months.

A common law marriage occurs when a couple lives together for a certain number of years (one year in most states), hold themselves out as a married couple, and intend to be married.  Massachusetts does not recognize common law marriage, and therefor will not grant an annulment or a divorce because the parties were never legally married to begin with. 

As long as one party wants the divorce, Massachusetts will allow divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.  Because of this legal provision, it procedurally not possible for one party to prevent the divorce from eventually occurring  – even without cooperation or participation from the other spouse. If the divorce is a contested matter it is important to keep in mind that  it will take longer, become more expensive, and will present certain challenges procedurally, however a divorce generally cannot be stopped even by a highly resistant spouse. 

Your spouse does not need to live in Massachusetts in order for you to get a divorce.  As long as you have lived in Massachusetts for one year the residency requirements are met to file a divorce.  If you are filing a 1A joint petition, often we can coordinate directly with that person and get the required documents signed through the regular mail.  In the event of a 1B contested divorce proceeding, your spouse will need to be served in the state in which they are residing. Often times they will retain Massachusetts counsel to appear on their behalf to move the case forward if they reside in location that is far away.  If they reside in a neighboring state, they will sometimes appear on their own or with an attorney. 

Usually not. Since mediation, conciliation and other types of alternative resolution have become widely used, very few divorce cases go to trial. The overwhelming majority of divorce cases in Massachusetts are resolved through these methods or between the parties with the assistance of counsel . Occasionally, the parties agree without outside help to settle their disputes. Massachusetts courts do not require mediation before trial  but can refer a case to conciliation to help the parties resolve some if not all of the issues.

Yes,  even uncontested cases require a court hearing. If you are facing a serious hardship and absolutely have no way of appearing, you can file a motion requesting a waiver of attendance or a motion to appear telephonically.  This can be facilitated further if you have an attorney to appear in your place.  

Yes,  even uncontested cases require a court hearing.  Although you will have to appear before the judge, your uncontested hearing will not take much time and the inconvenience will be minimal. 

Yes, the majority of divorce records, (also referred to as divorce case files and/or decrees), are considered public information. There are two exceptions: 1. any financial information contained in the more recent records is made available only to the parties of the case named or to their attorney. 2. A small percentage of divorce cases may have information, such as an address of a party, impounded which is done for safety reasons.  This occurs most often in domestic violence situations.

Yes.  You may ask the Court to take back your former name at the time of the divorce and the Court will give you permission to do that and will incorporated that into the judgment.  It is important to make this request at the time of the divorce, otherwise, you must file a petiton for change of name after the fact which will require additional time and effort.

If you and your spouse reconcile after the divorce process has begun, a joint motion to dismiss can be filed by both parties and the divorce case will be dismissed without prejudice.  This means that if either or both parties want to re-file at any time after the dismissal in entered, they are free to do so. 

At the Wright Family Law Group in Tewksbury, Massachusetts we offer representation from divorce attorneys with more than 40 years of collective experience in the Merrimack Valley, Greater Boston and North Shore areas. We can answer your questions and provide you with peace of mind as you approach your divorce. Contact us today at 978-851-2291 or contact us online to schedule a free telephone consultation.


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