Turmaine Family Law Office

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

Have a question? please take a moment to review the following, but if yours isn't answered here, please contact me.

  • Can I get a divorce if my spouse doesn't want it?

    Absolutely. There is one guarantee that a divorce lawyer can give a prospective client and that is that he or she can get the divorce; the other party can make it take longer and be more expensive but they can, in all likelihood not be able to stop the process.

  • Are my reasons for getting a divorce private?

    The reasons people seek a divorce are many and varied. Most of the time most people only need to divulge to the court that reasons by saying that they grew apart, they do not see eye to eye and they have very different opinions on a lot of important issues. And they then respond to a question by the judge that there is no chance that they will reconcile. All of this is in support of a no-fault divorce. If however, the parties cannot reach an agreement and end up with a trial, they will likely be testimony about all manner of issues.

  • Do the reasons for getting a divorce matter to the state?

    The short answer is that the reasons for the divorce do not matter except to the extent that they rise to the minimal requirements of the grounds for divorce. If the grounds are the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (no-fault) the reasons are as set out in answer to the last question. If the grounds for the divorce are cruel and abusive treatment than they will need to be testimony about what the behavior was and the deleterious impact of that behavior.

  • How much does a divorce cost?

    That very much depends upon how much time a lawyer spends working on the case. Some divorce is cost about $2000 others can cost tens of thousands of dollars!

  • Will I have to pay legal fees if it's not my fault?

    In virtually all cases each party pays their own lawyer fees unless, in the rare case, one party has significant sums of liquid assets available and the other party has virtually none. Is also possible for the court to order one party to reimburse another party if the first party has behaved very poorly in court during the process of the divorce.

  • How long will it take to get divorced?

    Some people can finish with the divorce process within two weeks others can take two years or more before the matter is settled. If the case requires a trial that will likely be closer to two years.

  • What is the most cost effective way to get divorced?

    Mediation is not only less expensive than any other method but also faster and less dramatic for the people involved.

  • How is child custody determined?

    Custody will be granted to the parent that has been the primary custodial parent when the marriage was intact. This is usually only change for a very significant reason such as alcohol or drug abuse or documented mental illness or other unfitness to be a custodial parent.

  • How is child or spousal support calculated?

    Support whether for children or for a spouse is now basically calculated in Massachusetts according to given formulas. The formula for alimony is the need of the recipient but not more than 30 to 35% of the difference in their incomes.

  • Do we need one or two lawyers to get divorced?

    Parties do not need to have two lawyers to get divorced. One lawyer can only represent one party however an experienced mediator can prepare the agreement for both parties. It is however, customary that the parties then get the approval of the agreement by an independent attorney regarding their interests.

  • Are there various options for getting divorced?

    There are many options with respect to the terms of the agreement. Procedurally, every divorce requires a final hearing where the judge either has a trial and decides all the issues or approves the separation agreement of the parties. Also procedurally there are various options including the need in some cases for temporary orders, contempt hearings, the appointment and reporting by the Guardian ad litem, pretrial conferences and status hearings all prior to the final hearings.

  • What is the difference between a trial and mediation?

    An actual trial is an evidentiary hearing where the parties and sometimes other people testify, documents are introduced into evidence, arguments are made about what evidence can be entered and whether or not certain questions are proper - similar to what you see on television though very much less dramatic. In mediation both parties meet with the mediator prepares the agreement that they will use at their final hearing.

  • How long does a trial take?

    That is a difficult question to answer and depends first of all upon how complicated the given case is then upon the judges schedule and to some extent how obstructive the parties and lawyers are during the course of the trial. Some trials finish in one day some take a week or more spread out over months.

  • How long will I have to be in court?

    How many times a given case must have hearings in court depends primarily upon the parties and how willing they are to compromise and be reasonable in the negotiations that inevitably take place during the course of litigation. Some cases require four to as many as eight trips to court before the trial and can have as many after the trial. Within agreement there is almost always only one trip to court.

  • What if we come to an agreement / settle before the trial is over?

    Anytime the parties reach an agreement the litigation process is truncated right there in the court will have the hearing where the agreement is either approved or rejected.

  • What do I do if my ex isn't paying their child or spousal support?

    There are a couple of different options. If it’s child support one option is to have the Department of Revenue enforce the court order by bringing a contempt. The other option whether it’s child support or spousal support is to hire a lawyer to bring a contempt action. In which case if the spouses found to be in contempt, the judge is supposed to order the reimbursement of attorney’s fees.

  • Can I or my spouse move to another state if there is a custody agreement?

    In order for a parent to move the residence of the children to another state (and also within the state of Massachusetts if it’s sufficiently far away) there needs to be written permission either from the court or from the other parent.

  • If I get remarried, do I still have to pay child or spousal support?

    Remarriage has no impact at all on whether child support or spousal support need to continue to be paid.

  • My kids don't want to live with my spouse, how do I get custody?

    That depends upon the age of the children and to which particular judge your case is assigned. If the children are old enough (certainly 16 sometimes earlier and certainly later) the children will decide on the wrong where they’re going to live and would not listen to a judge anyway. When the children are younger than that cases to change custody can still sometimes be successful depending upon the reasons why the children don’t want to live with the former spouse and also to some extent upon the maturity level of the children.

  • What if we want to get back together after getting divorced?

    If this decision is reached before the divorce is final (usually three or four months after the final court hearing) it is only necessary to file a motion to have the divorce dismissed. If the decision is made after that time frame then you’d have to be remarried.