If you’ve been thinking about a potential divorce then you may have heard the term “contested divorce” and “uncontested divorce”. However, you may not know exactly what those terms mean and how they can impact your divorce process. So, what exactly is a contested divorce?  A contested divorce (also referred to as a 1B) quite simply means that you or your spouse disagree on some or all of the issues involved in your case. Common issues in a divorce include financial (child support, division of bank accounts or retirement accounts), division of property (who stays in the marital residence), and child custody.

The aspect of not being able to agree on important issues is why many couples end up being divorced in the first place. As a result, most divorces in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are contested. The process for filing a contested divorce is straightforward and requires an original marriage certificate and the completion of several forms. Once the contested divorce has been filed, the court will process the paperwork and issue a summons. The summons will then need to be served upon your spouse by a constable or a sheriff.

An uncontested divorce (referred to as a 1A) means that you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement on all issues in your divorce and reduce to writing your agreement in a document called a Separation Agreement. The benefit of an uncontested divorce is that the process is typically much quicker and less costly than a contested divorce. However, it is important to note that this process requires complete cooperation from both parties. In the event one or both of you are unable to reach an agreement on even one item, the court will not allow you to file an uncontested divorce.

The process for filing an uncontested divorce is also much different from a contested divorce. A complete packet of the required documents must be submitted to the court. The court will then process the paperwork and issue a final court date for your hearing. As opposed to a contested divorce where there are multiple court appearances, with an uncontested divorce, you appear only once before the court.

The procedural processes differ between both types of divorces and your best bet is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that all necessary forms are being filled out correctly.  That way the process will be as smooth as possible from the very start. If you don’t work with the right lawyer then serious mistakes can be made that will lead to unnecessary delays and potential fees. The good news is that a lawyer who not only practices but also specializes in family law will go a long way in protecting your best interests when it comes to a contested divorce in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

If you need help with contested or uncontested divorce-related issues, please contact Zawada Family Law today. Brynn Zawada, an expert in family law, delivers the best results for her clients. She is an accomplished litigator with extensive experience representing individuals in the various district and probate courts across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Attorney Zawada’s primary focus is on complex family law matters including divorce, custody, removal, alimony, and guardianship and grandparent visitation issues.