What Kind of Legal Services do I need: Mediation? Divorce?

What Kind of Legal Services do I need: Mediation? Divorce?


Question:

I am just starting the process of separation/divorce from my husband of 15 years, and I’m not sure what types of services I should be looking at that would be best for my situation, and whether there are any things I need to file right away (i.e. do you have to establish constructive desertion right away?)
My husband has been in the Foreign Service for over 12 years, during which time I have been a trailing spouse, so my career has nose-dived in support/anticipation of many international moves. I am currently unemployed. I don’t think the logistics of alimony or property separation will be the big concern, but making sure I’m protected, because he is an alcoholic, and I don’t know what happens if he puts his job, credit or whatever else at risk. Can’t risk big instability! Thanks

Answer:

As you seem to be aware, there are several ways to start your divorce and ultimately resolve it. Given your situation and your husband’s history, I suggest you look into hiring an attorney to file for divorce and have him served with the divorce complaint. This will provide some protection because you will both be bound by the automatic financial restraining order which prohibits either one of you from essentially making any big changes to your assets or debt except in the ordinary course of business.

In Massachusetts, you can file under the no-fault statute on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage so you do not need to make any changes to establish a “constructive desertion.” Also, you do not have to live in separate residences to file for divorce. Then, the process depends on whether you and your husband, through your attorneys, can resolve the issues. If not, you have the option during the proceedings to file a Motion for Temporary Orders to have the Court enter some initial orders for support, custody, etc. Thereafter, the case proceeds to a Pretrial Conference and a trial, if the case is not resolved by agreement before that time.¬† Most cases, however, can be resolved at or shortly after the Pretrial Conference because the parties have a good understanding of the issues and the judge’s perspective on their positions.

This legal question was provided by Avvo and answered by Cynthia Hanley an experienced Mansfield, Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer.  This does not consent an attorney client relationship.