What is a Contested Divorce in Massachusetts?

What does a contested divorce mean?
Contested divorce defined.


Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is also called a 1B divorce. It happens when the parties can?t come to an agreement on all the issues involved. For example, if there is a disagreement over child custody, child support, or division or property, the divorce must be placed on the contested divorce track. A contested divorce generally takes longer, is more involved, and more expensive.

In order to file for divorce in Massachusetts, one of the parties must have lived in Massachusetts for one year preceding the filing or that the cause of the marriage ending happened in Massachusetts and the parties lived here as a couple.

Several documents must be filed with the court in order to start a divorce proceeding. The filing needs to include your Marriage Certificate, a Financial Statement, a Petition for Divorce, and the filing fee, among others. If there are minor children involved, both parents must attend a parent education program and submit a Certificate of Completion. The court will issue a Summons. The Complaint for Divorce and the Summons must be served on the other party. The other party, now the defendant, will file an Answer to your Complaint along with a Financial Statement.

Discovery is the next phase of this process. Discovery is basically an exchange of information between the parties. Discovery can take the form of:

  • Interrogatories ? written questions,
  • Requests for Production of Documents,
  • Requests for Admissions, and
  • Depositions.

Depositions deserve a closer look at this point. A deposition feels like a mini trial where there is only one witness. It usually takes place in an attorney?s office. Attorneys for both parties are present as well as the witness (it could be you). There is a stenographer, and a recording is sometimes made also. The witness is under oath and must face questions from the opposing attorney. Your attorney can make objections, but there is no judge there to rule on those objections. Objections are made to preserve the issue for later if a ruling by a judge is required.

At some point a Pre-Trial Hearing is scheduled. That hearing cannot take place any sooner than six months after the filing date unless approved by the Court. If all the issues have been agreed to, the Judge may issue an Order. If there are any contested issues, a trial will be scheduled. After trial, a Judgment will enter. Your divorce is final ninety (90) days after the Order or Judgment.

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