Areas of Practice

Family Law

Domestic Violence

Criminal Law


If you decide to proceed with a divorce, Attorney Barnes will either file a Complaint for Divorce or a Joint Petition for Divorce. Whether a Complaint or a Joint Petition for Divorce is filed will depend on whether your spouse is amicable or not with regard to the divorce process. If the divorce is contested by your spouse, a Complaint for Divorce will be filed in the Probate and Family Court. If the divorce is uncontested by your spouse, a Joint Petition for Divorce will be filed in the Probate and Family Court. The appropriate location, or venue, of the Probate and Family Court for filing a Complaint or Joint Petition will depend on where you or your spouse reside.

The divorce process may require also Motions for Temporary Orders, which address issues such as temporary custody, child support, alimony, maintenance, education, and health insurance.

The Complaint for Divorce is served on your spouse, who then needs to file an Answer on a timely basis.

A hearing is scheduled before a judge at which the Complaint and Motions for Temporary Orders are presented to the Court. The Court then issues an order, which informs you and your spouse of how these issues will be addressed on a temporary basis until the parties’ divorce is legally complete.

Each spouse is required to file a Financial Statement.

Additionally, spouses must exchange information and documents. This process is called Discovery.

About a week before the Pre-trial hearing, the spouses and their attorneys meet in what is referred to as a “Four-Way.” At that time, an agreement among the parties may be drafted, without going to trial, if they can resolve the issues related to the divorce.

If an Agreement cannot be reached and the spouses are unable to resolve the case, they appear before the Court for the Pre-trial hearing. At that time, the spouses have a further opportunity to attempt to resolve the case. Usually, the judge provides some assistance in attempting to have the parties settle the case. Most divorce cases are resolved at or before this stage of the legal proceedings.

If the case is not resolved by the time of the Pre-trial hearing, the case is assigned a Trial date.

The case is then tried before a judge, commonly referred to as a bench trial. There are no juries in Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, as only judges hear divorce cases.