Divorce Lawyers in Westborough Assisting Clients Going Through Family Changes
Divorce is almost always stressful, or at least parts of it can be for most of us. There are so many emotions and memories involved that it can be hard to step back and be objective during this process. If there are children involved, these emotions are intensified. The process of divorce doesn’t have to be as stress-inducing as one would think. There are attorneys highly trained to walk with you through the process and make sure that you can move through this chapter of your life and onto the next one with confidence.
O’Connor Family Law Firm has years of experience helping people just like you, who may be wondering what their next steps are, what options are available to them, or how to move forward. Regardless of where you are in the divorce process, with a multitude of cases and families in our history, you can be sure we have what it takes to meet you where you are and help you through the next steps.
Some people choose to navigate this process alone. Many have learned that the help of a trusted family attorney can help to ease their stress and help them to begin to feel whole again.
Contact us today at 774-214-2137 to have your specific questions answered and learn how we can help you along your path in this process.
What Does Divorce Look Like in Westborough, Massachusetts?
There are two types of divorce that can be filed in the state of Massachusetts. One of them is a no-fault divorce, and the other is a fault divorce, both of which can be contested or uncontested. We will dive into the specifics of each in the paragraphs below.
No-fault divorce is categorized in two ways, often called “1A” and “1B.”
“1A” refers to the situation in which both parties agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and they have reached a written agreement, outlining things like parenting time, child custody, child support, alimony (when necessary), and the division of marital assets. This category is uncontested as each of the parties agrees on the terms.
“1B” refers to when one or both of the parties agrees to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage but can’t agree on things such as child custody, child support, or division of marital assets. This results in a contested no-fault divorce. If both parties are able to come to an agreement on the above items, you can file a request to change from a “1B” to a “1A” filing of no-fault divorce.
A faultdivorce is filed when one of the parties in the divorce blames the other for the demise of the relationship. There are seven categories in which the party can place the blame in, and the burden of proof of these faults committed by their spouse lies on them to prove in the courts. They are:
- 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 for divorce
- 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
Remember, the burden of proof falls on the person asking for the divorce. Some proof can seem straightforward, and in other situations, it may be less obvious.Fault divorces can take more time and money than no-fault divorces in order to fulfill your obligation to prove fault. There are additional steps like conducting interviews and gathering evidence, which can take extended amounts of time and skill to complete. This is why a fault divorce is less common than a no-fault divorce. If a fault divorce is right for you, however, this is something that we can not only help you to determine but can help you take the necessary steps forward in preparing you for a fault divorce filing.
Another option in some states is “legal separation,” though Massachusetts doesn’t offer this option. There is what is referred to as separate support, however, which involves filing to get support for yourself and your family. A spouse can file for separate support if, for example, you’re married and 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 the ability of your spouse to continue to put limitations on your personal freedom and allow for financial support for you and your children.
As no two situations are the same, neither are the needs of each family nor the steps necessary to move forward in this process. Years of experience in dealing with unique situations have allowed O’Connor Law Firm to be a great choice in helping you through each of the above scenarios.
What About Divorce Mediation?
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 processcan 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 the 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.
Joint discussions are held while the mediator works with both parties to foster clear communication and help to point out strategies or resolutions through their experience working with other families. This new perspective can help, as sometimes there are solutions that neither party has thought of that can result in an agreement. Private discussions can also be requested at any time during the process by either party or by the mediator themselves. This facilitates privacy, further understanding of what is important to each of the parties and why, and what might be needed to move toward the goal of an agreement.
A Memorandum of Understanding is used when both parties agree to any of the topics at hand. If no agreements are made, additional sessions can be scheduled or the next steps determined. Even in the case of no agreements made, most parties feel satisfaction that by going through this process, there is a more clearly defined strategy and a better understanding of which specific details need to be worked through further.
How Long Will My Divorce Take?
Each situation is unique, and so are the steps involved in the 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 divorce 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 process can be realistic.
Having trusted legal representation to assist you in this process can allow for a shorter timeline, as your team will have years of experience knowing what can slow the process and how to avoid those issues.
Why Should I Hire A Lawyer?
Some people may choose to handle this process alone; they do their research and file their paperwork accordingly, and they feel this option is what’s best for them and for their families. In some cases, this is enough. When dealing with any divorce, there are multiple unique factors involved, however, with or without a child custody aspect, that make filling out the required paperwork harder than anticipated. There are many levels in the process that generally require a thorough knowledge of the changing legislation, years of experience in dealing with many different scenarios, and the ability to look through an objective lens rather than one where emotions impair decision making. Having skilled legal support may be the difference in avoiding years of stress or much more money spent than was necessary due to miscalculations or missteps.
Having a team of family law attorneys to assist you along each step of the way can be invaluable, as well as save you time and stress, helping you to get to the next chapter of your life with grace. You don’t have to handle this alone. We have extensive experience handling unique situations, which allows us to feel confident that we can help you in your situation, as well.
Call O’Connor Family Law Firm today at 774-214-2137 to find out more about what makes us different in our approach, how we have helped others in your situation in the past, how we can answer your immediate questions and concerns so that you can begin the process of moving forward in your life.