Online divorce is a useful option for divorcing couples provided by most US states, including Massachusetts, where spouses use a third-party service to prepare divorce papers for filing. This option helps couples navigate the intricacies of Massachusetts Family Law and the court system in self-representation.
These days, many couples prefer to handle all the key divorce issues without hiring expensive lawyers and going through custody and estate battles at court. If you choose a quick and simple path of an uncontested divorce, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it in Massachusetts.
Complete Divorce Online: What Does It Mean?
The main thing that spouses need to know about divorce is that the more they clash over divorce-related issues, the more expensive their dissolution of marriage gets. But if spouses reach an amicable agreement about child custody and support, distribution of marital assets and debts, and alimony, what’s left to do? Just submit a petition for divorce and other documents to the court and attend a hearing.
Do they need legal assistance for that? Not necessarily. Some people may want to hire an attorney to do the paperwork for them. While others, who don’t have complicated divorce proceedings because they have amicably split their property and parental responsibilities, realize that they can handle the filing on their own.
The latter, however, highly appreciate the assistance in divorce papers preparation they can get from web-based divorce companies. Filling out divorce forms can be overwhelming due to unknown terms and uncertainty. That’s where an online divorce service helps.
Seeking to fill out an application for divorce online, spouses answer questions about their family situation and financial matters. The web divorce system then selects state-specific forms for an uncontested divorce (no-fault 1A divorce forms in Massachusetts) and prepares them. After spouses receive the completed forms by mail, they file them at a local courthouse in person or by mail.
Divorce Requirements at Massachusetts
To qualify for an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts (also known as a no-fault 1A divorce), spouses must meet several requirements:
- Residency. Massachusetts requires one of the spouses to have lived in the state for at least 12 months before filing for divorce.
- Grounds for divorce. There’s only one reason for an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts. The marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
- Settlement agreement. The spouses must resolve custody, support, and property division issues and memorialize their agreement in writing. Also, the mandatory settlement agreement must be notarized (signed in the presence of a notary).
Steps in a DIY Divorce in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, the spouse who files the paperwork is called the petitioner, and the other spouse is the respondent. Given the requirement for a settlement agreement and financial statements, spouses can prepare divorce documents together.
Step 1. The spouses complete the court forms and prepare the required documents, such as certified copies from the Registry of Vital Records, a notarized settlement agreement, and similar. All the necessary forms and filing instructions can be found online at the Massachusetts divorce guide. Or, spouses can use an online divorce service that provides state-specific court-ready forms and a step-by-step guide for a DIY divorce.
Step 2. The petitioner pays filing fees ($200+ $15 for filing surcharge) or completes a fee waiver if both spouses are indigent. The completed court forms are to be filed in person or by mail. In Massachusetts, the Probate and Family Court handles divorce cases. Spouses file in the county where they lived while married or where the petitioner or the respondent currently lives.
Step 3. The waiting period in Massachusetts is 30 days. After that, both spouses must attend a court hearing. However, it is possible only for one spouse to attend if the other requests a waiver of attendance. At the hearing, the judge reviews the settlement agreement to ensure the interests of the children are met and all divorce-related issues are handled fairly and just. If the judge enters a judgment, it’s not yet final. In Massachusetts, the divorce takes 90 to 120 days after the judgment date.
Step 4. The divorced spouses have to wait for their divorce to become final and cannot remarry for 120 days after the judgment date. The state of Massachusetts gives divorcing couples some time to change their mind. The divorce judgment nisi enters into force 30 days after the judgment day, and the absolute judgment 60 – 90 days after that, making the divorce final.
Troubleshooting for the Divorce Process in Massachusetts
Anyone can appreciate the advantages of a Do-It-Yourself divorce, but not everyone thinks they can pull it off. Indeed, a change in family life is stressful, and not all people can find the time and patience to prepare the court paperwork correctly. Online divorce services are an inexpensive and highly helpful solution for a DIY divorce in Massachusetts.
However, agreeing to an amicable uncontested divorce doesn’t imply that spouses automatically settle all their disagreements. If bitter disputes arise, a professional mediator can help resolve issues of almost any level of complexity. Once spouses reach an agreement and notarize it, they can continue the divorce journey without an attorney if they choose.