- Under what circumstances may I get an annulment?
- Can I change lawyers in the middle of my divorce?
- Does an uncontested divorce require a court hearing?
- Does Massachusetts recognize drug addiction as grounds for divorce?
- Can I get a divorce without a lawyer in Massachusetts?
See Who Can Get an Annulment? for information on grounds for annulment.
In a book called The Massachusetts Woman's Divorce Handbook , Isabella Jancourtz talks about "Changing Lawyers" on page 14:
"If you become aware that your lawyer is not doing anything on your case or you are dissatisfied for any other reason, you may consider getting a new lawyer. Before you do make a change, it is a good idea to see another lawyer for a second opinion. The delays you are encountering, for example, may not be your lawyer's fault. Some probate courts are tremendously backlogged.
"Changing lawyers in the middle of a case should be done only when absolutely necessary. The disadvantages are (1) additional legal fees, (2) additional delay during the transition period, and (3) your new lawyer's lack of first hand knowledge about prior negotiation and/or litigation.
"Depending on the fee agreement you originally made with your lawyer, you may be entitled to a refund of part of the retainer. Your former lawyer must return all correspondence and documents to you or your new lawyer upon request, regardless of any outstanding legal fees."
Yes, there is a court hearing involved in an uncontested divorce, but it need not be complicated. See The Divorce Process for more information
Yes, see MGL c. 208 § 1 .Here is some helpful explanation from Kindregan and Inker, Family Law and Practice (vol. 2 of the Mass Practice Series) at section 33.4, pages 275-276: "Massachusetts recognizes the gross and confirmed habits of intoxication caused by voluntary and excessive use of intoxicating liquor or narcotics as grounds for divorce. ... The mere use of liquor or drugs by a married person is not of itself grounds for divorce. ... The statute requires that the use which leads to the habits of intoxication must be voluntary and excessive. The voluntary requirement has not presented any problem of statutory interpretation, but the question of what constitutes excessive use may be problematic in some instances. Even if the misuse of liquor and drugs is intermittent, as long as it is habitual and repeated on a fairly regular basis, the divorce can be allowed."
While it is usually best to enlist the aid of an attorney when seeking a divorce, especially when there are children and assets involved or you have trouble communicating with your spouse, it is still possible to obtain a divorce without an attorney.
There are different types of divorce -- (1) "uncontested fault," (2) "uncontested no-fault," (3) "contested fault," and (4) "contested no-fault" -- and you will need to determine which is applicable to your situation in order to proceed. See the Trial Court's self-help information on Divorce for more information. You also might want to check Law About Divorce for useful links to information and forms.
The Massachusetts Bar Association also runs a free service called "Dial-A-Lawyer". On the first Wednesday of every month, attorneys who are members of the MBA answer questions, from the general public from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The phones tend to be extremely busy during that two hour time period so please keep trying to get through. To use Dial-A-Lawyer call (617) 338-0610.
Last update: August 14, 2014