When thinking about divorce, a drawn out legal battle comes to the forefront of many people’s thoughts. While such certainly occur, they are not pre-requisites to divorces. Many couples, regardless of their shared or unshared desire for a divorce, are able to resolve their differences and agree on the terms for the dissolution of their marriage before ever going to court. These couples then file an M.G.L. c. 208, § 1A joint petition for divorce and approval of a signed separation agreement, along with other required documents. If done right, these couples may even be able to see a judge the same day, to have their case resolved. Although their divorce will not be final before a specific time period runs after seeing the judge, they will not have to return to court again specifically for the divorce in most cases.

How divorcing couples arrive at their separation agreement varies tremendously. During a consultation, our experienced divorce attorneys typically learn the background of the case, and then lay out options for how to proceed next. Quite often, the next step involves having the client prepare a financial statement with our assistance, along with a general roadmap of desired terms that we then incorporate into a proposed separation agreement. These documents, as well as a few others, will then be transmitted to the client for final review, and ultimately to the other spouse or their attorney as applicable. From there, exchanges of documents and negotiations usually occur until a final agreement is reached, at which time out experienced divorce lawyers coordinate a time or times to meet for signatures, and presentment of the separation agreement to a judge of the Probate and Family Court.

In some cases, even though the parties want to avoid a contested action, they still find great difficulty reaching a mutually agreeable separation. Depending on the parties’ resources and willingness, alternative dispute resolution can assist in overcoming the remaining settlement hurdles. A classic example of alternative dispute resolution, in this scenario, is mediation. Mediation is a confidential and voluntary negotiation process, wherein a mediator helps the parties reach a voluntary agreement between themselves (with the assistance of the mediator and counsel). Our skilled divorce attorneys highly encourage mediation when the process is appropriate.

If you are considering or have been presented a proposed joint petition for divorce, please contact an experienced divorce lawyer at LaFountain & Wollman, P.C., for a divorce consultation today. The only caveat is we cannot represent both spouses to a proposed divorce. Although many couples inquire about such, our professional and ethical responsibilities do not allow for representation of both spouses to a divorce under any circumstances.