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Divorcing During COVID-19

When your relationship is already strained, living under quarantine conditions can quickly shed light on a troubled marriage. Whether you’ve been contemplating divorce for a while or the stress of recent events has become the straw to break the camel’s back, so to speak, our attorneys can help you understand the divorce process and your options.

During these unprecedented times, we are all taking a look at our lives and examining our relationships. Perhaps the tiny cracks in your relationship have turned into irreparable gaping holes. With a newfound outlook on how we see our futures, some couples may decide to part ways.

If you’re among those wondering if you can file for divorce during the covid crisis, the answer is yes. While we do not know when the court will reopen to the public, the judges and court employees are continuing to work during this time period. Hearings on emergency matters, along with some uncontested matters, to the extent they are not handled administratively, are being handled telephonically. The court is further in the process of attempting to put procedures in place to hear contested matters through video conferencing to the extent possible.

Below are some things you should know about the divorce process under any circumstances.

Although Massachusetts recognizes both “fault” and “no-fault” divorces, most divorces are granted based upon “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage (no-fault).

  • Massachusetts Courts divide property equitably–not necessarily equally. This means property and assets will be distributed in a way that the Court believes is fair under the circumstances, based upon the applicable statutory factors set forth in M.G.L. Chapter 208, Section 34.
  • Whether to award alimony and how much to award is also left to discretion of the court, to the extent that the parties are unable to reach an agreement. The duration of alimony, to the extent awarded, is further governed by durational limits for marriages under twenty years, and by the obligor’s retirement age, as defined by Social
  • Security, for marriages of twenty years or more. Modifications of any alimony obligations ordered remain subject to modification by the court upon a finding of a material change of circumstances.
  • In Massachusetts, both parents have a legal obligation to support their children, which absent a deviation are determined by the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.
  • If parents can’t agree on custody and a parenting plan, a court will ultimately decide all custody issues.

If you decide to explore your options or start the divorce process now amid the covid-19 pandemic, our skilled attorneys and staff are here to help and support you. To learn your options or for advice on how to proceed during these unique circumstances, give our office a call.

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