Westborough Divorce Attorney Standing By Your Side

Divorce is almost always stressful, or at least parts of it can be for most of us. So many emotions and memories are involved that it can be hard to step back and be objective during this process. If there are children involved, these emotions are intensified.

Serving Clients in Westborough and Throughout Massachusetts

The divorce process doesn’t have to be as stress-inducing as one would think. There are Westborough divorce attorneys who are highly trained to walk you through the process and ensure you can confidently move through this chapter of your life and onto the next one.

O’Connor Family Law has years of family law experience helping people like you, who may wonder what their next steps are, what options are available, or how to move forward.

Regardless of where you are in the divorce process, with many cases and families in our history, you can be sure our law firm serving Worcester has what it takes to meet you where you are and help you through the following steps.

Some people choose to navigate this whole process alone. Many have learned that the help of a trusted Westborough divorce attorney can help ease their stress and help them feel whole again.

Contact our law firm today at  774-703-3755 to have your specific questions answered and learn how our Westborough divorce attorney team can help you along your path in this divorce process serving Worcester County, Massachusetts!

Grounds for Divorce in Massachusetts

When filing a Massachusetts divorce, the first choice is figuring out which way to file. Although it sounds easy, this is the first step that often causes confusion for people.

There are various types of divorce that can be filed in the state of Massachusetts. While both of which can be contested or uncontested case

Divorce can be filed as an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce (Read: What’s the difference?). Most divorces in Massachusetts are filed on non-fault grounds; however, some divorces may have cause to file on fault grounds.

Our Hanover and Westborough divorce attorneys will dive into these classifications a little more in the paragraphs below.

Fault versus a no-fault divorce simply refers to the reason the divorce is taking place. Historically, a divorce could only be granted if the complaining spouse could prove that their spouse was at fault in some way that the state found it justified to terminate the marriage. This could sometimes be difficult to do which would leave people stuck in unhealthy marriages with no way out. That all changed in Massachusetts in the mid-1970’s with the introduction of no-fault grounds.

A no-fault divorce means that one or both of the parties simply just do not want to be married to their spouse any longer for any reason imaginable. A no-fault divorce is plead on the grounds that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or that the parties have irreconcilable differences. (Both grounds mean the same thing.) The reason for not wanting to be married can be completely due to one person’s wrong-doing, but the point of a no-fault divorce is that no one needs to make the divorce more complex or conflicted by having to prove the other party’s bad behavior. The high majority of most divorce cases are granted on no-fault grounds.

Before jumping into what a fault grounds are though, let’s talk about the two ways a no-fault divorce can be filed: through an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce. These can also be referenced as a 1A (uncontested divorce) or a 1B (contested divorce) because of the statute number that governs each type. No matter what you call them though, here’s a summary of what each means.

An uncontested divorce is where both parties have come to terms with the fact the marriage is over and have reached a written agreement that outlines issues such as parenting time, child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of marital assets, among other things. This written agreement is usually called a Separation Agreement. (Sometimes this confuses people because they want to be divorced, not separated, but it’s the same as a Divorce Agreement or Marital Separation Agreement.)

In an uncontested divorce, there cannot be a single issue the couple disagrees on.

O’Connor Family Law

In an uncontested divorce, there cannot be a single issue the couple disagrees on. Each party needs to fill out their own financial statement as well as additional documents that must be submitted at the same time that everything is filed with the court. The documents that must be filed in order for the court to put the divorce case down for a hearing include a Joint Petition for Divorce, a Joint Affidavit or Irretrievable Breakdown, an original certified copy of the marriage certificate, either a short or long form financial statement for each party, a Separation Agreement, the Form R-408 or Certificate of Absolute Divorce, and if there are children involved, an Affidavit of Care and Custody, and a Child Support Worksheet that shows what the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines presumes the correct amount of child support should be in the case.

Once all the paperwork is filled out completely and correctly, the uncontested divorce can be filed at the family court in the county where one or both parties reside. (Jurisdiction – what courthouse to file at – is a complex topic that will not be discussed right here.) There must be a hearing on the divorce where a Judge reviews it and accepts it. If this does not happen, even if all the paperwork was done correctly and filed – there is no divorce and you remain married.

After the Judge accepts the divorce and finds the terms of the Separation Agreement to be fair and reasonable, there is a 30-day waiting period before the Nisi Judgment of Divorce enters. The Nisi period is a 90-day period that the Commonwealth mandates to give the parties a brief period after things have cooled down to make sure they want the divorce to go through. This is not a period where either party can decide they do not like the Agreement they entered and try to change anything. If the Nisi period goes by, an Absolute Divorce Judgment will enter automatically. This is the point of no return date where, if the parties decide they still want to be together, they’d have to get remarried.

A contested divorce, in contrast, is generally filed for one of two reasons: (1) the person who files does not want to wait to move forward to see if everything can be worked out first; or (2) there are one or more issues the parties cannot completely agree on. Perhaps there is a disagreement on child custody, child support, or how bills should be paid during the pendency of the divorce. This is considered a no-fault contested divorce case.

Only if a Complaint for Divorce is filed can one or both of the parties ask the Court to enter temporary orders that lay out the rights and responsibilities of each party while the litigation is pending. Once filed, the case gets docketed and then a summons is sent to the Plaintiff. That summons must be formally served on the Defendant. This is when the case begins.

A fault divorce is an action that is typically only filed in extreme circumstances, but it is where one party wants the court to order that the divorce is the fault of the other spouse. This may sound good on an emotional level, but can simply cause a divorce to be longer and more costly because it must go to trial for a Judge to make that determination.

There are seven categories that can serve as the basis of the fault grounds, and the burden of proof falls on the person making the allegation. These grounds are:

  • Adultery
  • Impotency
  • Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication caused by voluntary and excessive use of intoxicating liquor, opium, or other drugs
  • Non-Support- when a spouse who is sufficiently able to support their spouse but grossly or cruelly refuses or neglects to provide suitable support
  • Desertion continued for one year prior to filing
  • Confinement for crime- if either party is sentenced to life or 5 or more years in a federal institution in MA or any other state
  • Cruel and Abusive treatment

If you’re ready to move forward, contact our Westborough family law firm to learn how our team can help you determine and take the steps towards preparing a Massachusetts divorce filing.

What Our Clients Say About Our Westborough Divorce Attorneys

  • “O’Connor Family Law and specifically Lydia Field were amazing throughout my entire divorce process. Lydia was so knowledgeable, responsive, and helpful as we worked through the mountains of paperwork.” – Sarah M.
  • “I am so happy with the services Attorney Khan provided, she came in at the last minute after a previous attorney did not fulfil his duties and she found errors he had made, worked all weekend on a rush to finalize my divorce.” – Courtney O.
  • “LaKeshia Parker Smalls and her team were so wonderful throughout my divorce process. I spoke with a few other lawyers before hiring her who made me feel like a burden with all the questions I needed answers to.” – Jessica C.
  • “Sasha Khan worked with me for 10 months on a child custody modification. She had a difficult case with the opposing party, but was very professional and driven to defend me and give advice through a very difficult time in my life.” – Shannon W.


Unlike other states, Massachusetts has no legal separation, so you don’t need court permission to live apart from your spouse.

Here is what is referred to as separate support, which involves filing to get support for yourself and your family.

A spouse can file for individual support if, for example, you’re married. Your spouse has failed to support you, you and your spouse are living separately for “justifiable cause” (which can include things like abuse, desertion, and adultery), you and your spouse are living together but have “justifiable cause” to live apart, or if your spouse has deserted you.

Separate support is not divorce but can be an option to inhibit your spouse’s ability to continue to limit your freedom and allow for financial support for you and your children.

In Massachusetts, you do not need to be separated before filing for divorce. You can file if you have been married for at least one year, and you and your spouse have lived in MA for at least 180 days.

However, if you and your spouse have been separated for at least 18 months, you can file for a no-fault divorce.

A no-fault divorce is a divorce that is granted because the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This means that the marriage cannot be saved and that the spouses can no longer live together as husband and wife.

As no two situations are the same, neither are the needs of each family nor the steps necessary to move forward in this legal process in Worcester County.

Years of experience in law dealing with unique situations have allowed O’Connor Law Firm to be a great choice in helping you through the above scenarios.

Mediation is another option that many couples will consider, as it has several appealing qualities. Divorce inevitably brings up several issues that are sensitive in nature, emotionally charged, and complex. Entering into a mediation process can allow for a less formal approach. Mediation is also a more private way to start the process of agreement before moving forward, without doing so in a public courtroom. The sessions are confidential and voluntary and allow the control over the result to remain between you and your spouse, rather than leaving it for the courts to determine. Mediation can also cost less in the long run, as it allows you to have some agreements set in place before moving forward, saving you time and costs in the courtroom.

Mediation begins with introductions, at which time the facilitator (both trained and neutral) introduces themselves and their role in the process, as well as the rules and guidelines necessary for a productive session. At this time, both spouses are able to introduce themselves and give their opinions on each of the topics at hand, as well as state their preferred outcome. A mediation contract and confidentiality agreement are signed by the parties at this time as well.

Each situation is unique, and so are the steps involved in the divorce process. There isn’t necessarily a clear-cut answer as to how long a divorce will take to complete, but there are some general estimations of the time it takes to finalize the legal process. Filing a fault divorce can generally take longer based on the additional steps discussed above and the time that each of them can take. If a party is contesting certain aspects of the divorce, this takes additional time as well. Also, take into consideration the timeliness of court dates and how backlogged they may be, the time necessary to wait until the next phase, and other possible delays. In general, expecting anywhere from seven or eight months to longer than one year to complete the legal process can be realistic.

Having trusted legal representation to assist you in this process can allow for a shorter timeline, as your legal team will have years of family law experience knowing what can slow the process and how to avoid those issues.