Is there such a thing as an easy divorce? Probably not, but using divorce mediation can help lessen the stress and shorten the time required to finalize a divorce. A litigated divorce can take over a year, but a mediated divorce can take little more than four months.
How Divorce Mediation Is Different
In a litigated divorce, each spouse hires an attorney to represent their interests and negotiate with the other spouse’s attorney. Then each spouse pays their attorney to review and explain what the lawyers negotiated. This back and forth between lawyers can go on indefinitely. Not only can this process get expensive, but your family situation also becomes public record.
Mediated divorces are a confidential way to work out a divorce agreement. At Percy Law Group, PC, our certified mediator is a neutral guide who works to find mutually agreeable solutions to child custody, asset distribution, alimony, and other divorce issues. The mediator meets with each party to share information and discover an agreeable way for those wants and goals to be met and then brings the parties together to find a solution.
Advantages of Mediation
All aspects of a divorce can be settled through mediation. Mediation can be used to resolve matters concerning the following:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Division of Assets
- Pet Custody
- Visitation Rights
Settling divorce matters with less expense and time are only two of the advantages of mediation, but there are others:
- When spouses agree to a settlement on their own terms, they are more likely to follow it and there is less chance for future litigation.
- Children are not exposed to the stress of trial.
- The exes generally remain more amicable.
- Participants have more flexibility in negotiating alimony, child support, and asset valuation and division.
- All discussions that happen during mediation remain confidential.
- If mediation fails, you still have the right to a trial.
The court’s only participation in a mediated divorce is a brief hearing where the mediated agreement is presented to the judge who verifies it is “fair and reasonable.”
Who Can Divorce in Massachusetts?
Generally, you can file for divorce in Massachusetts if you have lived in the state for one year prior to filing. The one-year rule is not necessary if the cause of the divorce occurred in the state, and you were living in Massachusetts at the time it occurred.
Divorce Grounds in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is a no-fault divorce state, so you can divorce if there is an “irretrievable breakdown” in the marriage. That does not preclude you from seeking a divorce for cause.
The fault grounds for divorce are:
- Desertion for one year
- Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication with drugs or alcohol
- Cruel and abusive treatment
- Non-support of a dependent spouse
- A conviction with a prison sentence of 5 years or longer
Types of Divorce
- 1A Divorce. Also called an uncontested no-fault divorce, both parties reach an agreement about assets, child custody, and other elements in the divorce agreement. This divorce is final 120 days after the judge accepts the agreement.
- 1B Divorce. This also is a no-fault divorce but is considered contested because the parties cannot agree on how to handle the division of assets, alimony, or other aspects of the divorce settlement. These divorces can go to trial or revert to a 1A divorce if the couple comes to an understanding.
- Fault Divorce. The person asking for the divorce must provide proof of the grounds to the court. The defendant spouse must be served a summons within 90 days of the filing. This divorce can involve pre-trial hearings and a trial. There is a six-month waiting period between the filing and the hearing. If a trial becomes necessary, there is a 90-day waiting period after the judge’s decision before the divorce is final.
Preparing for Mediation
Our mediator plays a different role than an attorney. Don’t expect to be advised. Your mediator will remain neutral. Enter mediation with an open mind and expect to compromise. Have a firm understanding of your needs and what you believe is in the best interests of the family. Understand that you and your former partner might be emotional. Focus on moving forward and not on the past.
At the Percy Law Group, PC, we understand divorce is highly charged and emotional. The details of each case are considered as we work to find a resolution that allows you to move forward with your life and begin again.
If your divorce is uncontested or you need to go to trial, we have the professionals you can trust. We have staff members who speak Spanish and Portuguese.
Call us at (508) 206-9900 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.