Book of Laws

DIVORCE

Divorce Lawyer in Massachusetts

 

Ending your marriage under the law is an extremely stressful process regardless of the length of the marriage or whether the spouses share children.  

 

At Snook Law Office, our team of dedicated advocates guides clients through the divorce process from filing to final judgment every single day. We are ready to do whatever it takes to help our clients move forward and move on.

Hire Snook Law Office for Your Divorce Proceeding

 

Whether the split is amicable or not, we will help you move through the court and administrative proceedings smoothly and fairly. Attorney Douglas Snook will work tireless to complete the overwhelming asset and income calculations and file all paperwork necessary so that you can focus on making the important decisions for you and your family.

 

We Will Fight for Your Rights in Settlement Negotiations and in Court

 

Attorney Snook has helped many divorcing spouses find a compromise or litigate aspects of the divorce if a settlement cannot be reached.  Our office represents clients in the following matters related to divorce in Massachusetts: ​

  • Custody

  • Visitation

  • Child support

  • Parenting plans

  • Spousal maintenance or alimony

  • Division of property and debts

  • Valuation of assets

  • Domestic abuse

  • Restraining orders

  • Factual and false accusations of abuse

  • Uncovering hidden assets

  • Mediation and other non-adversarial solutions

  • Modification of support and custody orders

Reduce Stress and Focus on the Larger Decisions

 

Divorce is usually a highly emotional time for both parties where sometimes hasty decisions are made because a spouse is overwhelmed by the process. An experienced and knowledgeable divorce lawyer from Snook Law Office will counsel you on your rights and work with you to reach a the best resolution for you.

Learn More About Divorce in Massachusetts

 

What are the Basic Steps of Divorce in Massachusetts?

 

Residency

 

Spouses filing for divorce in Massachusetts must establish residence to file in the state. This is to prevent spouses from coming to the state specifically to obtain a divorce even when there was no real connection between the marriage and Massachusetts.

 

Residency is established in many ways and depends on where the cause for dissolution occurred and where the spouses were living either during their marriage or at the time cause occurred. Generally, a filing party can establish residency if they lived in the state for at least one (1) year, or the reason the marriage ended happened in Massachusetts and they have lived in the state as a couple.

 

However, establishing residency can become complicated. In many cases, a divorce lawyer will be necessary to help them determine whether residency exists to file in Massachusetts.

 

Grounds

 

As mentioned above, Massachusetts is a no-fault divorce state, which means that a spouse can simply state that the cause of the end of the marriage was an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” when filing for divorce. (Mass. Gen. Laws 208 § 1).  In this state, however, a person may choose to file for divorce alleging that the other person is responsible for the dissolution of the marriage. This is called a fault-based divorce, where a spouse can allege the following resulted in the breakdown of the marriage:

 

  • Adultery

  • Desertion

  • Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication

  • Cruel and abusive treatment

  • Non-support

  • Impotency

  • A prison sentence of 5 or more years  

 

(Mass. Gen. Laws 208 § 1).  

 

File Necessary Documents

 

Once residency is established and the spouse filing for divorce has decided how to file, they must begin the divorce proceedings by filing appropriate documents.

 

If Contested, Participate in Court Proceedings

A divorce is contested when the parties disagree on the reason for the breakdown of the marriage, child custody, child support, maintenance, etc. If a spouse contests the divorce, they will have the opportunity to file documents in support of their position. This initiates a longer court proceeding.

 

Determining Property Distribution and Alimony or Maintenance

 

Property Distribution

Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the couple’s accumulated assets and debts are not necessarily divided 50-50, but are based on the equities or financial circumstances of the parties.

Factors the court will examine are:

  • Duration of the marriage

  • Contribution of the party to the increasing value of marital property

  • Age, health, and earning capacity of the parties

  • Vocational skills of each party

  • Liabilities of each party

  • Present and future needs of the dependent children of the marriage

A skilled divorce lawyer will take inventory of all available assets and ensure that valuations are fair and appropriate.

 

Alimony or Spousal Maintenance

If granted, there are time limits on how long alimony is to be paid based on the duration of the marriage, though it can be paid indefinitely in marriages of 20-years or more. A court will examine the ability of the payor to make the payments and the needs of the recipient who may have less earning capacity than the payor or who made sacrifices in their career for the marriage.

 

Child Custody and Child Support

 

Child Custody and Visitation

There is no legal presumption in favor of joint physical and legal custody. Disputes are resolved based on what is in the child’s best interests. Possible outcomes are joint custody with both parents sharing parental time with the children at their respective homes, or where one parent is the primary custodian with the other granted visitation rights unless there are issues of safety.

Child Support

The non-custodial parent will have to make support payments to the custodial parent. Payments are based on statutory guidelines, though a court can deviate if the child has special needs or other circumstances that would lower or increase payments.