What is a Contested Divorce?

If you are getting a divorce, there is a good chance you are familiar with the emotional and financial burdens that may come along with your situation. However, in order to minimize this pain as much as possible, it is important you learn more about the process and hire a trustworthy attorney who will fight for your rights. Here are some common questions you may have regarding the divorce process:

What is the difference between a contested and a non-contested divorce?

In a non-contested divorce, both parties agree on the terms of their divorce. This is generally the best possible outcome for obvious reasons, though unfortunately, sometimes an agreement cannot be reached. If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse, then this is what is known as a contested divorce. As a result, issues such as child custody, child support, parenting time, property distribution and alimony will come into play, so it is important you hire an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the divorce process.

What are “fault grounds?”

In the state of Massachusettes, you may cite fault grounds for your divorce, though you do not have to–you may also cite “no-fault” grounds. This is generally the preferred option, as if you cite fault grounds, you give your spouse the chance to answer these claims. This may lead to a much longer, expensive, and even potentially painful process. What’s more, citing fault grounds generally has little to no impact on your case. However, if you wish, some of the fault grounds you may cite are:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Cruel and abusive treatment
  • Impotence
  • Non-support
  • Confirmed habits of intoxication
  • A prison sentence of 5 or more years

If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is extremely important that you contact the authorities and receive the help you need. However, when filing for divorce, it is generally best not to cite fault grounds for the reasons mentioned above.

Do I have to settle the terms of my divorce in front of a judge?

Thankfully, you do not–at least at first. For example, you may wish to consider hiring a mediator if you or your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce. A mediator will take both you and your spouse’s wishes into consideration, and from there, will draft a neutral, unbiased agreement. The goal is to help couples come to an agreement in a calm, neutral environment, where they can hopefully sort out their differences in a civil manner.

Contact our Massachusetts firm

If you require compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance for a matter of divorce, family or estate law, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley today. Our firm proudly serves clients in Mansfield, Massachusetts and throughout Bristol County.