Divorce is complicated, but you have probably learned a thing or two about this subject online or through the experiences of friends and family members. In this blog, we’ve gathered information on a number of divorce-related matters in Massachusetts.
Are they fact or fiction? Test your knowledge below!
1. Less than 10% of Massachusetts divorces go to trial.
Fact. In Massachusetts, it’s estimated that only about 7% of divorces make it to a trial before a judge. Across the United States, these numbers are similar. The vast majority of divorces are resolved out of court.
2. If I can’t agree with my spouse on custody or other issues, a contested divorce is our only option.
Fiction. If divorcing spouses cannot agree on issues related to their split, such as property division, support, or custody, there are alternative ways to resolve their disputes. Mediation is one such method, wherein a neutral third-party mediator guides disputing spouses to a resolution that they can both agree upon. This can save a considerable amount of time and money, and it can reduce the amount of stress a couple experiences.
3. Property is subject to a 50/50 split in a Massachusetts divorce.
Fiction. Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, which means all marital property is subject to equitable, or fair, distribution in a divorce. This is not necessarily an equal or 50/50 split. Additionally, only marital property will be subject to division. This is property acquired during a marriage and usually excludes inheritances and gifts received by one spouse.
4. People are less likely to file for divorce in November and December.
Fact. According to a Washington University study, divorce is seasonal. Researchers looked at U.S. divorce statistics over 14 years and discovered that people were most likely to file for divorce in March and August and least likely to file in November and December. The reasoning behind this may be that families try to stay together and make things work over the summer and winter holidays; they may want to delay divorce proceedings until after the holidays have passed.
5. Alimony payments will end automatically if my ex remarries or moves in with someone else.
Fiction. Although alimony payments can be modified or terminated if there is a significant change in your or your ex-spouse’s circumstances (such as remarriage, job loss, promotion, etc.), you or your ex will need to seek alimony modification through the proper channels. You should not simply stop paying support or accept that your spouse is no longer paying without reviewing your divorce agreement and talking to your attorney.
6. Child support payments can be modified after a divorce.
Fact. There are times when a significant change in circumstances will warrant a modification of child support. When this happens, you must send a request to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR), the agency responsible for collecting and enforcing child support orders. This request should include paperwork that shows why a support modification is necessary. The DOR will consider your request based on Child Support Guidelines and may increase or decrease support accordingly. It may also determine that support should stay the same. As with all family law matters, your attorney can help ensure you file the paperwork and supporting documentation the right way, to strengthen your case.
7. About one-third of child support payments in the United States are not paid at all.
Fact. According to a CBS investigation, unpaid child support is a $10 billion issue in the United States. It is estimated that more than 30% of custodial parents do not receive any child support at all and that just 43.5% of child support payments are made in full. The Social Security Administration requires each state to have an enforcement plan in place to secure child support payments, but this only goes so far. Approximately three-quarters of child support payments are collected through wage garnishment. Other custodial parents run into trouble getting fair payments from exes who have other sources of income, who refuse to accept their responsibilities, or who cannot be located at all.
8. In Massachusetts, you have to go to court to get a divorce.
Fact. Even though you may agree upon the terms of your divorce in a mediator’s office or on your own terms, you still must go to a divorce hearing at your local Probate and Family Court Department. This hearing involves a review of your divorce agreement and court paperwork by a judge, who will ask you a few basic questions. If the judge believes that the agreements you’ve reached are fair and reasonable, they will grant the divorce.
Want to Learn More? Ask Our Massachusetts Divorce Lawyers!
Every divorce is different, and the decisions you make now can have a tremendous impact on your future. At Miller Law Group, P.C., we believe in guiding our clients through the divorce process with the least amount of stress and turmoil, helping them achieve brighter futures. This does not mean that we only handle uncontested divorces. We simply take the approach that is most likely to help our clients achieve their goals. If we must go to court, we have the trial experience and drive to fight for the best possible results. With divorce and family law matters, we always put our clients’ needs first. Call (508) 502-7002 today!