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Four Approaches to Navigating a Divorce in Massachusetts
When you are contemplating divorce, there is a lot that you need to consider. After your divorce, your life will be different in many ways. And just thinking about all of the ways your life will change can be overwhelming.
Then, there are all the decisions you will need to make, most importantly:
- Whether you and your spouse will co-parent and how;
- Calculating child support and whether there will be spousal maintenance; and
- Figuring out how to divide your assets and debts.
Coping with all of the changes and making these decisions can at times seem impossible. And that’s understandable.
An experienced Massachusetts divorce lawyer can help you figure out what decisions you need to make, gather all of the information you will need, and assist you in making those decisions.
If you are contemplating or going through a divorce in the Greater Boston, Ma. Area, contact The Law Office of Richard Mucci at 781-729-3999 for the help you need.
Navigating a Divorce in Massachusetts
When getting divorced, one of the first things to consider is how you and your spouse will talk about and make all the decisions that will need to be made. What follows are descriptions of the four most commonly used approaches to navigating a divorce in Massachusetts:
- Informal Negotiations
- Collaborative Law
1. Informal Negotiations
You and your spouse communicate—in person or by phone, text or email—and discuss all the issues and topics you need to resolve. You communicate as often as needed, and in the end, come up with a set of agreements that you can live with. These agreements will then become part of the divorce decree issued by the court.
This approach might work for you if you and your spouse can talk with each other and if you were usually able to make good decisions together in the past.
The benefits of informal negotiations are as follows:
- It is personal;
- It is faster and less expensive;
- You can schedule time to talk when it suits you; and
- Everything is private.
On the other hand, these conversations can be intense and sometimes emotionally difficult, especially if you have a history of not being able to make decisions together. Furthermore, informal negotiations are not advisable if there has been any domestic abuse in your relationship.
Mediation involves hiring a professional mediator who can help you talk constructively together, who understands the issues that need to be resolved, and who will work with you to come up with a workable agreement.
The mediator will, amongst other things:
- Help come up with a complete list of topics or issues that need to be discussed;
- Collect the information you need to make decisions;
- Help you resolve conflicts that arise during negotiations; and
- Help you communicate more effectively and make smarter decisions.
The mediator will remain impartial throughout the negotiations and will not make decisions for you (or even give you legal advice). He or she will only help you talk with one another, stay on task, and work through any disagreements.
The benefits of using a mediator to negotiate a divorce are as follows:
- It is a private and confidential process;
- It can be scheduled at your convenience;
- It has a proven track record of success; and
- It allows you to stay in control of all decisions.
To use mediation effectively, you’ll need to find the right mediator, be willing to pay a professional fee (some no-cost mediation may be available), and as with informal negotiations, be able to work together with your spouse.
3. Collaborative Law
Each spouse hires an attorney trained as a collaborative lawyer. The couple and their attorneys, often along with a mental health professional and/or financial professional, meet one or more times. The spouses and attorneys sign a participation agreement requiring everyone to share information freely and frankly and committing themselves to working cooperatively to find fair and reasonable solutions.
The benefits are generally the same as in mediation, including your ability to make decisions that affect you and your family. Another benefit is the participation of other professionals to offer advice and guidance on things like co-parenting and finances.
The case goes to court, where each party presents evidence—testimony and documents––and has the opportunity, through their lawyers, to challenge the evidence presented. Lawyers also present arguments to support your position.
After considering the evidence, legal rules, and comments from the lawyers, the judge makes a final decision. The judge’s decision is then binding on you and your spouse.
The advantages of going to court to litigate a divorce are that when you do so, you have professional (your lawyer) speaking on your behalf and an independent party (the judge) to listen to the facts and the legal arguments, weigh the evidence and the law, and make decisions that are legally binding on you and your spouse.
The disadvantages of taking your case to court are as follows:
- You are not in control and will have to live with what the judge decides;
- You won’t be dealing directly with your spouse
- The courtroom environment can cause conflict between you and your spouse to become more heated
- There are usually long delays before you can get a court date; and
- The legal fees can be substantial.
Each of the 4 approaches to navigating a divorce described above has its advantages and its disadvantages. Each one works well and can help you navigate your divorce successfully.
So, there is no one right way to navigate a divorce. The right approach to negotiating your divorce is the one that suits you and your spouse best.
For help deciding which approach to navigating a divorce is right for you and your situation, or if you have questions about divorce or other family law matters in the Greater Boston, Ma. Area, call The Law Office of Richard Mucci at 781-729-3999 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with an experienced and reputable Massachusetts divorce lawyer.