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Filing of Complaint

Caparell & DiGregorio will file your complaint and related documents with the Plymouth Probate and Family Court which, in turn, assigns a docket number and judge for your case usually within two to three weeks. A temporary restraining order to “freeze” marital assets is automatically entered upon both you (when you file the complaint) and your spouse (when your spouse is “served”).

Service of Complaint

We need to “serve” a copy of your complaint, along with a summons, to your spouse. We send it to him/her or his/her attorney to accept service, or, in the alternative, we arrange for our constable to deliver these documents to him/her personally.

Filing of Answer

(and Counterclaim, if applicable)

Your spouse should file a written “answer” or response to all of the allegations made in your complaint as well as your requests for relief. Instead of filing his/her own Complaint for Divorce, your spouse may file a “counterclaim” alleging his/her own facts and requests for relief.

Motions for Temporary Orders

We may seek temporary orders for you and your family to establish an interim parenting plan and financial arrangements, such as alimony, child support, health expenses and insurance, and payment of certain household expenses, while we work toward a final agreement. Each Judge addresses motions on a certain day each week. Court rules require us to give your spouse seven to ten days advance notice of these motions.

Rule 410 Mandatory Self-Disclosure

Within 45 days [of service or filing], you and your spouse must exchange certain documents outlined in the enclosed Rule 410 worksheet found in this folder.

Parent Education Program

If you have children, both you and your spouse are required to attend a parent education program prior to our requesting a pre-trial conference or final hearing. Information about the Parents Apart program in our area is enclosed in this folder.

Financial Statements

Both you and your spouse are required to file your current financial statements with attached W-2s or 1099s within forty-five (45) days of the filing of your complaint. In addition, you and your spouse must exchange financial statements within 14 days if requested by one another in writing or 2 days prior to any scheduled hearing. A financial statement is enclosed for you to complete and return to our office. If you are self-employed or receive income from rental property, you must also provide separate schedules which will be provided to you.

Additional “Discovery”

If you or your spouse require additional information from one another, you may authorize us to pursue a Request for Interrogatories, a Request for Production of Documents or a deposition of pertinent witnesses witnesses, including your spouse.

A Request for Interrogatories includes written questions to be answered in writing under the pains and penalties of perjury. These must be answered within 30 days of receipt.

A Request for the Production of Documents is a written request seeking certain documents or other written materials which must be produced within 30 days of receipt.

A deposition is an opportunity to question your spouse or other witness(es) under oath. All of the questions and responses are recorded by a stenographer and later preserved in a formal document called a “transcript.”

Four-Way Meeting

You, your spouse and your attorney(s) must participate in a settlement meeting to explore the resolution of your case without the emotional and financial expense of a full trial. This meeting occurs usually after you and your spouse have complete discovery but can take place at any time during this process.

Pre-Trial Conference

A “Pre-Trial Conference” is a meeting between you and your spouse and your attorney(s) and the judge assigned to your case to determine which issues remain disputed in your case. The judge will review detailed written memorandum from us and from your spouse/spouse’s attorney which provide a history of your case as well as a summary of your ideal final judgment. The judge then will make recommendations as to how to settle your case and will give us an opportunity to explore settlement with a Family Service Officer. If we are able to reach an agreement on all issues, the judge will enter a Judgment of Divorce that day. If we are unable to reach an agreement on all issues, then the clerk will schedule your case for a full evidentiary trial at a later time. Given the current court calendar, the typical wait for a trial date is several months to a year.

Final Hearing/Trial

If you and your spouse have reached a full agreement on all issues, then we schedule a very brief hearing where the Plymouth Probate and Family Court judge reviews the terms of your agreement, asks you some questions, and then enters a Judgement of Divorce. The substance of this Marital Agreement is outlined elsewhere in this folder. Your divorce is final either ninety (90) or one hundred and twenty (120) days after this hearing.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on all or some of these issues, then we conduct an extensive evidentiary hearing -- or “trial” -- with testimony from you, your spouse and other witnesses in accordance with the Massachusetts Rules of Evidence and request that the Probate and Family Court judge make a final decision on your case.

Sample Timeline for Complaint for Divorce

Every case is unique because of the parties, attorneys, and Judge involved as well as the different issues presented. The following timeline reflects the “typical” steps in a divorce case and explains these stages in some detail. The Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure and other court rules establish deadlines and other mandatory time restriction. While you may not experience all of these aspects of litigation, you may find this summary helpful during this divorce process.

Day 1

File Complaint

Obtain docket number and Judge’s assignment

Complete Service of Summons

File and Schedule Motions for Temporary Orders

Arrange for participation in Parent Education Program

Draft Financial Statement and Rule 410 Documents to Caparell & DiGregorio

Day 20

Answer (and Counterclaim, if applicable)

Day 40

Exchange Financial Statements and file with the Court

Day 45

Exchange Rule 410 Discovery

Complete Additional Discovery as necessary

Participate in Four-Way Meeting

Prepare for and attend Pre-Trial Conference

Prepare for and attend Final Hearing/Trial

Filing Complaint for Divorce

Service of Summons


(and Counterclaim)

20 days

Motion for

Temporary Orders

Financial Statement

40 days

Rule 410 Documents

45 days

Four-Way Meeting

Pre-Trial Conference

Final Hearing/Trial