Q. My husband and I worked with a mediator to prepare our divorce paperwork. I am taking a job in Australia in May. We have been separated for the last 10 years and only lived together for two. He has a house in Plymouth that he bought after we separated. I have a house in Fairhaven which I bought after we separated.
Our paperwork was rejected by the court. They said we filed in the wrong county, and we didn’t properly divide our assets. We don’t have a ton of money and didn’t see the need for lawyers because we agreed to everything. I don’t know how else to get divorced and I really can’t just come back for a hearing once I leave and start my job in Australia. What do you suggest?
A. Without seeing the agreement, I can only answer based on assumptions. The rejection based on wrong county could have been because you last lived together in Plymouth County. If you both live in different places but one of you still lives in the same county where you last lived together, that is where you should file. That being said, if you last lived together in a third county, you can file in any one of those three counties. There is no requirement to file electronically so you should walk the documents in next time and speak with someone in the Registry to ensure you are not rejected again.
Assets need to be divided equitably which does not necessarily mean equally. If you specifically state in the agreement that you keep everything in your name and he keeps everything in his name, that should suffice. If your agreement does not specifically list out the kinds of assets you each have and specifically waive your interests in each other’s holdings, you can edit the agreement to include those details. The length of marriage and separation, should lead to a conclusion that each of you keeping what’s in your own name is fair and reasonable.
You don’t need to hire lawyers to navigate this. If your papers are rejected a second time, ask to see the volunteer lawyer for the day to look over your paperwork for further tips. If the hearing date is after your move, just ask for a Zoom hearing.
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