In Massachusetts, simply put, you can get divorced in one of two ways: A Joint Petition or file a Complaint for Divorce.
If you and your spouse agree that you want to get divorced and think that you can work out Child Support, Custody, Property Division and everything else that goes along with dividing up your lives – an uncontested divorce is the way to go.
Generally, uncontested divorces cost a LOT LESS money in legal fees and cause a lot less emotional stress on your, your future ex and your families.
You don’t have to agree on the very date that you decide to get divorced on custody, visitation, division of assets and alimony, but you can certainly ‘decide to negotiate’. You can do this on your own or you can both consult attorneys and have them assist you in breaking down your marriage and coming to an agreement that is fair to both sides. You will incur legal fees, but nothing like the fees you will incur if you go in guns blazing and fighting out every little issue. Of course, sometimes, you have to go in guns blazing because you are so far apart or there are issues such as custody, child support or alimony that you simply cannot come to an agreement on. If you can – there’s no reason not to give it a try.
As a further note, you can change a contested divorce to an uncontested at any time – you just won’t be ‘officially divorced’ until six months after the filing of the Original Complaint for Divorce.
Some situations when an uncontested divorce might work:
- You and your spouse earn similar amounts of money and contribute to your family equally.
- You and your spouse both agree on a custody arrangement for your children – and you and your spouse both feel it’s important that you are both still actively in their lives.
- You want to dissolve your marriage with as much ease as possible, given that getting divorced is one of the most stressful situations you will ever encounter.
- You have been married a short amount of time and have no assets.
- You agree on the division of assets.
- You don’t want to hate each other more than you already do.
- After consulting with lawyers you both decide that the writing is on the wall with regard to your children and property and you would rather save your money for vacation, college, or a second home and not the attorney’s vacation, education expenses or new car.
ALL YOU NEED TO FILE AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE (1A) is the following:
- A certified copy of your marriage certificate;
- A Joint Petition;
- A Joint Affidavit;
- Financial Statements for each spouse;
- Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody of Minor Children of the Marriage;
- Parenting Class Attendance Certificate;
- Child Support Guidelines Worksheet;
- Separation Agreement;
- A DOR income assignment sheet (if choosing to pay Child Support through the Department of Revenue – sometimes the court wants them even if you aren’t going through DOR.)
- Request for Assignment;
- Prior divorce or annulment certificates.
I say “all you need”, but some of these documents take a little time to collect and put together. The most time consuming document is the Separation Agreement. The Separation Agreement sets forth all the details of the dissolution of your marriage. You can go back into court anytime to adjust Alimony, Child Support and Custody/Visitation if a substantial change in circumstances occurs in your lives.