Divorce FAQs

1. What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?
There is no actual “legal separation” in Massachusetts. However, you may decide you do not wish to end the marriage, but rather, live apart from your spouse for an indefinite period of time. In such an instance, you could seek the Court’s assistance in establishing ground rules as to custody of your children, visitation, child support and spousal support by filing a Complaint for Separate Support, Custody and Visitation. This action would not resolve issues concerning division of your assets and liabilities, nor would it dissolve the marriage. Therefore, proceeding in this fashion is cautioned and should be discussed with your attorney.

A divorce dissolves the marriage and would resolve all issues of the marriage including custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, health insurance, as well as division of the marital assets and liabilities.

2. What is the difference between physical and legal custody?
Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions concerning the health, welfare and education of the child. Physical custody means having the child primarily reside with you. For either legal or physical custody, the parents can be granted sole or joint custody. Typically, joint physical custody is only allowed by the Court as a result of an agreement by the parties.

3. How long will the divorce take?
If you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all issues and you have filed all of the required documents with the Court, you may receive a Court date within a few weeks. If there are any contested issues, the divorce could take up to a year or more.

4. Can I date while I am going through the divorce?
If you are no longer residing with your spouse, you may date. However, you should be extremely cautious not to introduce your children to your new partner too soon. Your children’s needs and emotional well being should be the most important guide for you. Finally, being discreet may prevent emotions from escalating and otherwise aggravating your spouse.

5. How is child support calculated?
In Massachusetts, child support is determined pursuant to child support guidelines. The formula considers both parties’ gross incomes, the number of children and the cost of child care and medical insurance. The specific circumstances surrounding custody may warrant a deviation from the guidelines formula.

6. What do I need to bring to my consult with the attorney?
Divorce consult:
• certified copy of your marriage certificate
• tax returns and/or W2s for the last 1-3 years, if available
• most recent pay stubs
• any paperwork you have received from the Court, your spouse or his/her attorney (whether mailed or served upon you).

Modification / contempt consult:
• any prior Judgments/Orders from the Court
• tax returns and or W2s for the last 1-3 years, most recent pay stubs
• any paperwork from the Court, your spouse or his/her attorney (whether mailed or served upon you)

The attorney may request additional documentation after your initial consultation.

7. How much will the divorce cost?
Every case is unique in its circumstances. Therefore, it is impossible to assess the actual cost of your divorce. The attorneys at Fraier & Maillet bill at an hourly rate, and normally require a retainer before commencing their representation. The actual fees and required retainer can be discussed at your initial consultation.

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State Massachusetts

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