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Divorce is the dissolution of a marriage. There are two basic grounds for divorce in Massachusetts, no-fault divorce and at-fault divorce. No-fault divorces, where the specific grounds are an “irretrievable breakdown in the marriage,” are by far the most common grounds for divorce in Massachusetts. However, at-fault divorce cases are still brought upon various grounds such as cruel and abusive treatment. Regardless of the grounds for divorce, the parties must disentangle their finances and determine financial and parenting obligations. This means sorting out issues such as alimony, child support, child custody and the division of the marital estate, among other issues.
The Massachusetts legislature has provided various factors for the Court to consider in determining an equitable division of assets, as well as any potential alimony award, including the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income. The Court may also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of the marital estate, the contribution of each of the parties as a homemaker to the family unit, and the amount and duration of alimony. In fixing the nature and value of the property to be so assigned, the Court will also consider the present and future needs of the dependent children of the marriage.
Divorce litigation may be lengthy, and during the pendency of the litigation, the Court may issue temporary orders, providing on a temporary basis for such matters as alimony, child custody and support, and use of marital property.
In Massachusetts, a divorce action can come to a conclusion in one of three ways: (1) dismissal, in the event the parties determine that they no longer seek a divorce; (2) agreement of the parties; or (3) trial of the divorce case. It is possible for parties seeking a divorce to come to an enforceable divorce agreement prior to filing anything with the Court.
When a divorce takes place, the parties’ entire lives may be turned upside down and rearranged. It is important to have an experienced attorney, such as those at the Law Offices of Miriam G. Altman, PC, to help guide you through such a life-changing and difficult event.