Plenty of clients come through the Massachusetts probate courts with simple divorces—no children, short duration of marriage, and limited assets. Many of these clients are surprised to learn that signing and filing a separation agreement is not sufficient to acquire a divorce. You must complete a bit of paperwork first.
Namely, the court requires each party to complete a financial statement thoroughly and independently, and exchange the statements with one another. Then, the financial statements must be filed alongside the complaint for divorce. The rationale is that the court cannot be confident a separation agreement is fair and reasonable if the court does not know whether the parties made a full financial disclosure to one another.
Some clients come to me aggravated that they must disclose this personal information to the court. Other clients come to me frustrated because their spouse doesn’t want to provide the financial statement. It is important to remember the alternative to filing a financial statement: provide a financial statement and get an uncontested divorce OR refuse and begin the long, expensive road of litigation.