FAQs About Massachusetts Divorce

1. The local deputy sheriff served my husband with a Complaint for Divorce. Can I have my husband and his personal belongings removed from our house?

Once you file and serve your spouse, you do not automatically have exclusive rights to the marital residence. You will need to obtain a court order and ask the judge to have him removed.

2. My husband filed for divorce. Can he sell one of our vehicles and cancel the insurance on the other vehicle that I drive.

No. An automatic restraining order goes into effect upon the filing and the service of a divorce complaint. A party may not dispose of or sell marital assets and/or cancel insurance without court approval.

3. My spouse and I have been separated for about 2 months and we have two children together. How will I survive without my spouse's income?

After the divorce is filed, your attorney can file a motion with the court and ask the judge for a temporary order for both spousal support (alimony) and child support. If you have custody of the children, some amount of child support will be ordered. There are several factors for the court to consider in awarding spousal support.

4. When ordered to pay child support, will the judge take into consideration what money I need to pay in living expenses before he/she determines the amount?

No. In most cases, child support will be determined by the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, which does not factor the monthly living expenses of either spouse and is usually based on the gross income (before taxes) of both spouses.

5. My friend said that she obtained a "no-fault" divorce. What is a no-fault divorce?

A no-fault divorce in Massachusetts is a divorce proceeding where neither spouse is asserting fault or blame for the termination of the marriage. Another name for this is "an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage". Both spouses agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and there is no hope of reconciliation. It is less time consuming and the least expensive way to end a marriage.

6. How will my property be divided in the divorce? Will I get alimony?

In a contested divorce, the probate judge has a tremendous amount of discretion in dividing property and/or awarding spousal support. There are several factors that a judge will consider, such as length of marriage, age, occupation, income and contribution towards the marital assets, just to name a few. However, it is difficult to predict precisely what the judge in your case will do. Consult an attorney who can help answer your questions.

7. I am divorced and do not have custody of my children. Can my ex-wife move out of Massachusetts with my children?

In most cases, removing a child out of state requires the other parent's consent. If the other parent does not give his/her consent then the parent who seeks to remove the child must obtain permission from a judge.

8. Can I get child support if the father of my children is not working?

A judge will generally order child support even if the non-custodial parent is unemployed. The child support guidelines state that a minimum of $80.00 should be paid monthly in child support. The judge can impute income, meaning that he assigns the amount that he believes that individual should be able to earn by working and then computes the amount of child support based on that.

9. Can I resume using my maiden name after I am divorced?

As part of the court order in a divorce, a wife may have her name officially changed to the name she used prior to getting married.

10. After I am divorced, can I go back to court if I am not getting enough child support?

With a few exceptions, the orders of the court on a divorce cannot be changed. The exceptions generally have to do with issues concerning children, such as custody, visitation and child support. A party may ask for a change in the court's order on those issues if there has been a material change in the circumstances of either party that would warrant a change.

11. What happens to my child support and alimony if my ex-spouse filed for bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy will not discharge child support, spousal support, or financial obligations that are in the form of support.

12. What is a retainer and why did my lawyer require one?

A retainer is essentially a pre-payment for the attorney's services and is common practice in divorce cases. The retainer is based on the attorney's hourly rate for handling the case with the amount of the retainer determined by the complexity of the case and the issues involved. As the attorney works on your case, he/she gets paid from the retainer, which initially must be deposited into the attorney's "client funds or escrow account".

Divorce Attorneys Ready To Answer Your Questions

For more information or to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer, please call our Franklin office at 508-528-8885. You can also email us to learn more about our legal services.