Did your spouse just serve you divorce papers? This can be a sensitive, emotional, and devastating time in your life.
It’s a lonely and isolating feeling to realize your marriage is ending.
It’s an even greater challenge for Chinese or Taiwanese couples in the Boston area, who face added pressures from cultural and language differences.
Hu Law has been serving the legal needs of the Boston Taiwanese and Chinese communities for years.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect from the divorce process.
The Massachusetts divorce process
1. Quick Boston divorce facts
Every US state has different laws about divorce. While this is by no means a comprehensive overview of Massachusetts divorce law, it will give you a good idea of what to expect during the process.
First, understand that just because your spouse filed for divorce, that doesn’t mean they have more rights than you. There’s zero advantage to the spouse who files for divorce proceedings, so you’re by no means “behind” your spouse.
Second, it’s difficult to contest a divorce in Massachusetts. If you don’t want the divorce but your spouse does, Massachusetts allows the divorce to proceed on “irreconcilable differences.” This means your spouse only has to prove that you are incompatible to be granted a divorce.
Third, Massachusetts \allows for no-fault or fault divorce options. No-fault means you acknowledge the marriage isn’t fixable and move on.
Fault means that one spouse is “at fault” for the marriage failure. This is most common in divorces where adultery, addiction, or desertion will give one spouse a greater share of the property in the divorce agreement.
Lastly, once your spouse serves you with divorce papers, don’t make any big changes to your insurance, property, or finances. The court will usually prohibit you from making these changes, and it’s a good idea to not make any big changes that could create problems.
2. The timeline
Massachusetts requires a waiting period for all divorces. Usually, this time period is six months.
However, that doesn’t mean your divorce will only take six months; that’s simply the minimum amount of time. If you have a custody or property dispute, it could take longer.
Once your spouse sends you divorce papers, you have 20 days to respond. During this time, you’ll consult with Hu Law to start preparing your own divorce petition, which will be a direct response to your spouse’s petition.
The petition will cover custody, child support, alimony, division of property, division of debts, and more. It’s essentially an outline for how you think the divorce should proceed.
Remember, you must reply within 20 days. If you don’t, the judge will likely render a default judgment of divorce against you, and you won’t have much recourse to contest it, whereas the property divisions and other issues are reserved to a later date.
3. Going to court
All Massachusetts divorces require a court hearing. After sending in your divorce petition, the judge will set an official court date.
Between now and your court date, you may have to go to other hearings. This could be for mediation, custody evaluations, or parenting classes. The judge will let you know what is needed for your unique case.
If your first language is Mandarin or Cantonese, you might feel uneasy about going to court. With Hu Law, you’ll have a trusted representative who can translate and explain court proceedings with compassion and cultural sensitivity.
4. Finalizing the divorce
Once you’ve come to an agreement over the terms of your divorce, the judge will sign what’s called a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This will finalize your divorce and outline custody, parenting, alimony, insurance, or property decisions.
If you changed your name when you got married, the judge will also grant a name change during this time, if you choose to change your name back.
Boston can feel like a lonely place during your divorce, especially if you hail from China or Taiwan. That’s why you need a lawyer on your side who understands both US divorce law as well as the sensitivities of your culture. Partner with someone who literally speaks your language. Get in touch with Hu Law to find your trusted attorney.