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Terms Of A Separation Agreement
If both spouses seeking a divorce are able to reach agreement on all matters involved, they can proceed with an uncontested divorce. They are required to sign an affidavit that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (often referred to as irreconcilable differences) and would also have to execute a separation agreement.
The separation agreement must provide for how the divorcing spouses have resolved each and every issue. The divorce agreement, as it is sometimes called, typically provides details on the rights and responsibilities of the parties on the following types of matters:
- Child custody, child support and a visitation schedule
- Amount and duration of alimony
- Division of marital property
- Payment of children’s education expenses
- Payment of outstanding debts
- Providing for health insurance and payment of uninsured medical expenses
The Divorce Hearing
All Massachusetts uncontested divorces require the parties to appear at a hearing before a judge at the Probate and Family Court. The judge ensures that the requirements of a divorce have been met and determines if the terms of the separation agreement are fair and reasonable. If approved, the terms of the divorce agreement become effective immediately and are enforceable as would be a contract. Some terms of the agreement, such as those dealing with minor children, may be modified in the future if there are material changes in circumstances.
The divorce itself becomes final in 120 days. A Decree Nisi is issued 30 days after the court hearing, and the divorce then becomes effective, without any further notice from the court, 90 days thereafter.
Even though a divorce may not be contested, the terms of the divorce agreement can have significant and long-term consequences. It is advisable to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can draft the agreement and properly advise you throughout the divorce process.