A litigated divorce refers to a legal action that occurs when two parties want to get a divorce and cannot agree to the final terms. The two sides present their arguments before a judge who then makes a decision rooted in state law, in our case Massachusetts state law.
In Massachusetts, divorce actions are handled in family court. This is a court of limited jurisdiction that handles only family law cases, as opposed to criminal or civil cases. These courts specialize in dealing with divorce-related matters and can give more time and attention to a divorce case than a standard court could. During litigation, both spouses present evidence, which may be in the form of witnesses, testimony, or financial documents. The court considers the evidence to make a determination on the contested matters.
Divorce litigation is often more expensive than settling a divorce without taking it to court since the parties incur greater legal fees and court costs. However, when parties cannot come to an agreement and require the involvement of a judge, litigation is an effective method to reach a final divorce agreement.
The family court will look at many factors in determining the outcome of issues in a divorce case. The reason for the divorce is one such factor, as are the respective situations of both parties. Regarding child custody, the interests of the child are held paramount while alimony determinations are normally made based on the spouses’ respective incomes and the career sacrifices they made with respect to the marriage. Issues as far as the division of property is made based on the property law rules within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.