Fall River Divorce Attorney

At Miguel Law Offices, I am Fall River divorce lawyer Jennifer Smith Miguel, offering extensive experience in representing clients through the divorce process in Massachusetts. I provide clients with honest, informative legal counsel that enables them to make informed decisions about their future and the future of their children.

Understanding Massachusetts Divorce: Fault and No-Fault

Massachusetts divorce law requires individuals seeking a divorce to identify a reason for the divorce — grounds for divorce. The grounds for divorce can be based on fault or no-fault. The system can be complex and it is important for an experienced divorce lawyer to fully evaluate your situation before determining which route is most appropriate.

Fault-based divorce: The length of time, necessary proof, cost and emotional strain are often reasons why many people chose to file for divorce under the no-fault system. However, a party to divorce may prefer to file for divorce based on one of the seven reasons for a fault-based divorce. The most common fault-based grounds for divorce involve adultery, cruel and abusive treatment and abandonment. However, there are other reasons that may apply.

No-fault divorce: No-fault divorce is based upon the "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage." Both parties mutually agree to the divorce and to the grounds for divorce (irretrievable breakdown of the marriage) in a no-fault divorce, or file for a fault-based divorce. Although conflicts may still exist in a no-fault divorce, the process is usually more efficient and less adversarial than a fault-based divorce — primarily because the parties are not exerting time, money and effort in demonstrating fault. While both parties must agree to the divorce, issues of property division, child custody, alimony and other matters must still be decided. To that effect, a no-fault divorce may be contested or uncontested:

  • No-fault uncontested divorce: Many times, in order to reduce costs and expedite the process, the spouses may come to agreement on the issues to be decided. This is often the case if there is not a lot of property involved or if there are no children. A divorce agreement is prepared, filed with the court and the divorce settlement agreement is incorporated into the final divorce decree.
  • No-fault contested divorce: When there are children, significant assets, complex property issues and other difficult issues, it can be challenging to come to agreement. A petition for divorce is filed, initiating the divorce litigation process. However, even though the case is formally initiated as contested, the parties may come to agreement at some point through the process, either through negotiation, mediation or other means. If an agreement is not reached, the court renders decisions on issues such as child custody, property division, alimony/spousal maintenance, child support and any other matter to be decided. Finally, spouses may come to agreement on some issues, but not all. In these situations, the remaining issues not resolved can be brought to the court for resolution.

Miguel Law Offices offers the experience, compassion and commitment to advocate for your interests in divorce, whether I am guiding you through a contested divorce, uncontested divorce, same-sex divorce or other separation in Massachusetts.

Divorce Mediation Services in Fall River, Taunton and New Bedford, Massachusetts

Many people pursue an amicable, alternative dispute resolution method, such as mediation, to resolve their divorce. Divorce mediation enables the parties to work toward a divorce agreement in an open, respectful environment that is focused on achieving a fair agreement. Miguel Law Offices offers divorce mediation services to individuals throughout Massachusetts. I am an experienced divorce mediator who can facilitate divorce negotiations as a neutral party. My experience, professionalism and skill in handling mediations is demonstrated in the fact that I frequently serve as a court-appointed family law conciliator who works to mediate disputes in probate and family court.

Contact a Child Support and Custody Lawyer for Experienced Guidance in Divorce

To discuss your divorce with an experienced Somerset divorce lawyer, call 508-296-0107, toll free at 866-360-5082 or contact my Fall River law firm online to arrange a confidential consultation.