Does it Matter Who Files For Divorce First in Massachusetts?

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If you’re considering dissolving your marriage, you may feel overwhelmed by the impending process. It’s common for individuals contemplating a divorce to wonder whether it matters who files for divorce first. Please continue reading to learn the potential benefits of filing for divorce first in Massachusetts and how our trusted Bristol County Divorce Lawyers can help you navigate your legal options.

How Do I File For Divorce in Massachusetts?

To initiate a divorce in Massachusetts, you must file a complaint with the appropriate court. The complaint must include the grounds for the divorce and any requests for relief, such as child custody, spousal or child support, or property division.

The person who files for divorce first is referred to as the “plaintiff,” and the other person is referred to as the “defendant.” The plaintiff is the person who initiates the divorce proceedings by filing the complaint with the court. Essentially, it’s the person who wants to dissolve the marriage. On the other hand, the defendant is the one the plaintiff wants the divorce from. The defendant must notified of the divorce case. This is achieved by serving them with a “Summons and Complaint.” After being served the complaint for divorce, the defendant has 20 days to file a response. This will include any counterclaims.

After the response has been appropriately filed, both parties can gather evidence through the discovery process. The court will encourage parties to undergo mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution to try to reach a fair settlement before taking the case to trial. If the parties cannot get a settlement, the case will proceed to trial, in which both parties will argue their case in front of a judge.

Is it Better to File For Divorce First?

Generally, who files for divorce first doesn’t make a significant difference in the outcome of a case in Massachusetts. While filing for divorce first doesn’t grant any unique rights, it can afford more considerable control over the situation. By initiating the process, you can ensure you’re prepared. Rather than being blindsided by an unexpected split, you can complete your due diligence without time constraints. This, in turn, will maximize your chances of achieving the best possible outcome. Ultiamtely, you will have more control over the timing of the divorce, the opportunity to properly prepare for the process ahead, and be first to present your side of the case.

If you’re considering a divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined lawyer from The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C., who can help guide you through every step of this complex legal process.