Divorce Attorneys in Worcester, MA
Guiding You Through the Massachusetts Divorce Process
At O’Connor Family Law, our accomplished legal team understands the emotional rollercoaster of divorce based on our own personal experiences as well as our 35 years of combined exclusive family law representation. Those qualifications have given us extensive knowledge of the law and the divorce process. This process requires a navigation that balances your end goals with efficiency in helping you obtain the outcome you need as quickly as possible. We urge you to allow our divorce lawyers to stand by your side as both allies and advocates as you move through the proceedings. We are here to educate and support you in making the best choices toward furthering your goals.
The Divorce Process in Worcester, Hanover, & Westborough
The service of divorce papers is what officially begins the divorce process. In a contested divorce, the party that initiates the process, called the Plaintiff, has the responsibility to serve the other spouse, called the Defendant. The Defendant then must file an Answer to the divorce within 20 days from receipt of the official complaint documents. Filing this Answer is important for correcting any mistakes within the divorce complaint as well as to reserve your right to seek any alternative outcome through a counterclaim.
Following this, the Plaintiff will generally present his or her side of the case first before the judge. This may or may not be an advantage as the Defendant gets to hear the other side’s argument and can directly respond to it when it is his or her turn before the court. In some cases, it is advantageous to be the Plaintiff to initiate the process when you need financial support to begin if a spouse has refused it.
Deciding when to file can also be influenced by the issue of alimony. If you are close to the five, 10, 15, or 20-year anniversary of your marriage, you may want to file to keep an alimony duration restricted to a lower tier by serving your spouse before the next five-year period passes. If you are the other party, you may want to wait to let the time pass to enable you to collect alimony longer.
A responding Answer to a complaint for divorce is not legally required. However, failing to respond can carry risks. If your case continues and you fail to answer and fail to appear at a court hearing, the judge can move forward without any input from you. This means the judge may basically give your spouse everything he or she requests.
What If You Don’t Know Where Your Spouse Is?
To obtain a divorce, your spouse must be notified through the serving of the divorce complaint. However, if you do not know where your spouse is, ways exist to legally satisfy the notification process. This is done through filing a motion for “alternative service” with the court. The most common method of alternative service is through publication in a newspaper done through a court order. Our firm can assist with this process to allow your divorce process to continue smoothly.
Once your case is filed, it will be docketed and assigned to a judge who will oversee and decide its outcome. Generally, you cannot request a different judge. As each judge may decide matters slightly differently, it is very important to have an attorney who has practiced regularly in front of each local judge. At O’Connor Family Law, our legal team has extensive experience with all the judges sitting at the Worcester County court; we can offer insight into how any one particular judge may rule in your situation. This can be invaluable to the preparation of your case.
When Children Are Involved
The divorce process remains basically the same whether you have children or not. What does change is the fact that you will also need to make decisions regarding their care, custody, and financial support. This often makes the divorce process more complicated, especially when you and your spouse have different ideas about what is best for the children. These decisions have long-range effects. For example, currently divorced parents can be ordered to pay for their children to go to college. This may mean thinking years ahead for financial planning.
Having children can extend the timeframe of a divorce and make it more costly, especially when parents disagree. This can also occur in cases where the safety and welfare of children may be affected by allegations of child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, or other potentially harmful situations. In some cases, an independent Attorney Representing Children (ARC) or Guardian Ad Litem may be assigned to the case to help the judge understand what is in a child’s best interests.
Let One of Our Worcester Attorneys Practicing Divorce Help You
Our firm is here to help you through the divorce process step by step. We can provide you with the education and knowledge needed for guidance and decision-making, ensuring you understand your rights and what you might give up through negotiation. Your divorce attorney can also advise you on how any decision can affect your future and how matters typically turn out when dealing with a particular judge.
It is our job to fight for your rights and make your voice heard in the courtroom. It is also our responsibility to give you both good and bad news – not just tell you what you want to hear. You cannot weight the pros and cons if you do not know the risks involved. All of these factors can influence whether you concede and settle or continue to fight and let a judge decide. In the legal process, this all involves weighing the risks and likelihood of success.
When dealing with the divorce process, much of it can be confusing for many reasons. Your team at O’Connor Family Law is dedicated to providing whatever help is needed. Ultimately, we believe our end goal is to guide you through the process so that you can move forward post-divorce with the confidence and ability to create a better life.
My representation was far more superior than my ex-husbands.- Vicki
Thank you, Heather!- Jim
Attorney O’Connor is a professional and compassionate attorney.- James
I would definitely recommend her.- Raymond
Heather is brilliant.- Former Client