Do “uncontested” and “no-fault” mean the same thing?

No. Uncontested means that you have done two things: 1. discussed all the issues that you need to discuss; 2. settled all those issues.

No-fault refers only to the reason (“grounds”) for a divorce. It means that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve agreed on every issue.

An uncontested divorce is the quickest and least expensive. I first meet with both of you to go over everything that needs to be in your divorce agreement. I’ll give you a Probate Court financial statement, along with the help you need to complete it.

After our meeting, I’ll draft the agreement and send it to each of you. I’ll urge you to discuss it with an independent attorney. You’re not required to do this, but it’s usually a good idea.

Once you tell me that the agreement is acceptable, I’ll prepare the divorce petition, affidavits, financial statements, and all other necessary papers. We’ll then meet again for you to sign everything.

The papers are mailed to the court, and the court will notify you of your court date, which is usually within four weeks. Massachusetts divorce law requires both of you to appear in court unless there’s a truly good reason why you can’t be there.

Same-day divorce? In some counties, you can go to court, file the papers, and go before a judge that same day to have your divorce allowed. This procedure does not apply in every county.

On an uncontested divorce, I don’t go to court with you. First off, you save money. Second, the procedure on a settled divorce is simple and informal. I’ll give you written instructions on what to do, where to go, and what to say.

Your divorce becomes final 120 days after you go to court. Until then, you’re still legally married.