When you are compelled to deal with domestic relations matters through the legal system, you have the three following options available to you:
- Litigation - The process whereby problem solving is resolved to a great extent by the intervention of the court. It is clearly the most expensive way to resolve legal problems. However, when parties are very volatile, positions are polarized, abuse of some sort is alleged or parties are not trustworthy to name a few situations, the intervention of the court is unavoidable.
- Mediation – This process is a method of resolving legal dispute through a neutral party that is paid by both parties or by the parties in any proportion they agree. The mediator establishes the issues, and with the help of the mediator the parties resolve them together with the assistance of the mediator. Parties are always strongly advised to have an attorney for legal consultation. By so doing the parties are making informed decisions during the process. Even if the mediator is an attorney, he or she cannot counsel either party. The mediator’s function is to help the parties agree to what works for them and draft the agreement and court documents so that the parties can obtain an uncontested divorce.
- Collaborative Law – This process is a method of resolving legal disputes whereby each party obtains an attorney certified in collaborative law. All negotiations are done in attorney’s offices. This method is less stressful because the parties can proceed at their own pace with the help of their attorneys. In a collaborative law approach, attorneys attempt to create a comfortable environment for their clients—one that is free from blame and embarassment in order to aid in achieving a resolution in a private setting rather than the public setting of a courtroom. When resolving matters the attorneys can assist the clients in making informed decisions. Since both attorneys are working with their clients to formulate the agreement, there is no risk that it will be undermined on review.
There are 2 ways to file for divorce in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
- Filing a Divorce under M.G.L. ch. 208, § 1A: When parties can negotiate a settlement without the aid of the Court, the parties file a Joint Petition for Divorce on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown (no fault divorce). The parties must have the ability to settle all issues regarding children (if any), finances, insurance and property division. A final divorce decree may be obtained in a much shorter period of time using this method.
- Filing a Divorce under M.G.L. ch. 208, § 1B: When parties cannot negotiate a settlement without the aid of the Court, either party may file a Complaint for Divorce on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown (no fault) or on fault grounds (cruel and abusive, desertion, adultery, alcoholism). When there is no negotiation, one of the parties requests orders for support and/or alimony, custody and visitation, medical insurance and uninsured medicals and any other issues requiring immediate attention.
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