Does the law require that I have a lawyer to get a divorce?

No, individuals seeking a divorce in Massachusetts are not required to have an attorney.  If you or your spouse are not represented by an attorney, you will be referred to as a “pro se” litigant.  However, it is advisable that you have an attorney to guide you through the process and protect your rights.

If my spouse and I reach an agreement for our divorce do we have to go to court?

Yes, Massachusetts law requires that a Probate Court Judge determine if a divorce agreement between parties makes proper provisions for the care, custody, and support of any descendants and the parties and that assets and liabilities are divided equitably and that the grounds for divorce are satisfied.

If I have a lawyer does that mean my case must go to court?

Not at all. Most lawyers in family law cases strive to reach a settlement for their clients without litigation. The vast majority of disputes are resolved without a trial.

Can my spouse and I share the same lawyer?

No; in Massachusetts one attorney cannot represent both parties in a divorce or other family law matters. This is a conflict of interest and is strictly prohibited.

If I have moved out of the house, have I abandoned the property?

No; you do not lose your rights or financial interest in your house simply because you move out either before or during a divorce. Your rights or interests in your house are based on a number of factors, not simply whether or not you occupy it. But you should give very careful consideration as to whether or not to move out of the house before you do so. It is best to consult with an attorney before doing so.

If I move out of the house, have I abandoned my children?

No; you continue to have the right to seek custody and/or parenting time with your child/children even if you do not live in the same house or under the same roof. However, the decision to move out of the home where your child/children are living is a very important decision and should not be made without serious consideration as it can impact the ultimate outcome. You should consult with an attorney before moving out of the home where your children reside.

Does one party have to be at “fault” to get a divorce?

No; while Mass law still provides for a divorce on the “fault” grounds (such as adultery or cruel and abusive treatment), Massachusetts permits parties to get divorced on the basis of irrevocable differences also known as a “no fault” divorce.