What is an uncontested versus a contested divorce?
- Parties agree no fault, parties also agree on all remaining issues;
- Parties agree no fault, parties disagree on remaining issues;
- One or more parties allege fault, parties disagree on remaining issues.
The basic difference is in the procedure and it depends on whether and to what degree the divorcing parties can agree. For example, Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 208 § 1A provides for a straightforward process where uncontested divorces proceed on the basis that the parties agree as the cause of the marital breakdown, and the parties also agree on all the attendant issues of how to divide the marital assets, custody of minor children, the parenting plan, child support and alimony.
On the other hand, Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 208 § 1B proceeds on the basis of a contested divorce, where the parties can agree on the grounds for divorce, that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. However, the parties are not able to agree on how to divide up the marital assets, or they disagree as to custody, the parenting plan, child support or alimony.
Another form of a contested divorce is where one party alleges fault grounds.
Advantages and Considerations of each?
In general, less legal work translates into a less costly and faster way of obtaining a legal divorce. When parties agree on no fault grounds and that the marriage can no longer be preserved, as well as to how to divide the marital assets, custody, the parenting plan, child support and alimony, then there are fewer legal issues and less legal work involved. On the other hand, cases which are hotly contested, which include allegations of fault, or which become complex as to property division, custody and alimony, require more legal effort and more time. In turn, these cases are among the most involved and expensive.
What are fault versus no-fault divorces?
Fault grounds are an allegation by one party that the other party is legally at fault for bringing about a termination of the marriage. There are several fault grounds provided by law. In contrast, no-fault divorces proceed on the basis that both parties agree that neither party is legally at fault for the termination of the marriage.
How should I proceed?
It depends. The best way is to consult the Law Offices of Gary M. Horwitz for a free consultation; please phone for details. Most clients find it useful to realize that a divorce court seeks to legally divide the financial assets of the parties in an equitable fashion, and to provide for the best interests of any minor children. In this way, a divorce action should concentrate on finding a better tomorrow, rather than to punish.
How do I fill out the required Financial Statements and Child Support Guideline worksheets?
One of the most important forms that must be filed with the Family and Probate Court in any divorce is the Financial Statement. There are two versions. A short form is completed if one party's gross income is less than $75,000 annually. A long form is filled out by parties whose gross annual income exceeds $75,000. The forms request specific financial information from each party. They are signed by that party under pains and penalty of perjury and signed by the Attorney representing that party.
The Child Support Guideline Worksheet is another very important document that must be filed by parties to a divorce where minor children are involved. The worksheets provide the Court with a straightforward mathematical calculation of the recipient and the payors available income and determination as to the payors weekly support amount. In compliance with the parameters of Massachusetts Law, our law office can help our clients complete this required task.
When will I know my matter will be concluded?
It depends on the cause of the marital breakdown, the cooperation of the parties, the cooperative spirit of the attorneys involved, the court calendar, and how easily unresolved issues can be resolved. While every case is different, it is always that the quickest way to achieve the result of a divorce is for the parties to agree on the many issues involved.
How much will it cost, how long will it take?
Since every case is different, please phone the Law Offices of Gary M. Horwitz.