Jessica L. Berrien | Family LawJessica L. Berrien | Family Law
Attorney
Jessica L. Berrien
is a Northampton, Massachusetts attorney who represents clients in civil litigation matters including family law, practicing primarily in the Western Massachusetts divisions of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court. Attorney Berrien represents egg, embryo and sperm donors in third party ART (assisted reproductive technology) cases.
Practice Areas

Divorce
Child Custody
Child Support
Alimony / Spousal Support
Same-Sex Divorce
Separation Agreements
Property Division
Interstate Removal
Unmarried Partner Disputes
Paternity Actions
Third Party ART
Egg Donation
Embryo Donation
Sperm Donation      
Adoptions

Post Divorce Actions
Modifications
Contempt Actions

Domestic Violence
Restraining Orders
Grandparents Rights
International Kidnapping
Adoptions

Jessica Berrien | Family Law
In order to obtain a divorce in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts two spouses may either file a joint petition for divorce with the Probate and Family Court under M.G.L. c. 208, section 1(a) if they are able to come to an agreement regarding all issues, or one spouse may file a complaint for divorce under M.G.L. c. 208, section 1(b) if the parties are unable to come to an agreement.  One spouse (the plaintiff) files a complaint for divorce which is served upon the other party (the defendant) along with a summons.  Service of the complaint may either be done by sheriff or the defendant can accept the papers by signing voluntarily.  The defendant answers the complaint and then the case is in the pretrial period which is the time prior to trial. 

The parties may come to an agreement any time during the pretrial period, even during an actual trial on the issues.  If the parties come to an agreement they may file it with the court and do not have to proceed any further with litigation.  During the pretrial period the parties may either come to an agreement on temporary orders or have the court hear motions for temporary orders in court hearings, requesting that the court make decisions regarding various issues for them. Temporary orders outline how the parties will act during the pretrial period on such issues as custody and visitation, child support, alimony, who is going to live in the marital home, how bills will be paid, etc. 

Each party has the right to conduct discovery during the pretrial period.  Discovery is a way to obtain information from and about the other spouse in the form of written answers to questions, document production and sworn testimony at deposition. 
If there is an issue of custody in the case, either party may request that the court appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate and produce a recommendation of what would be best for the child in regard to custody and parenting time.   

If the parties are unable to reach an agreement there will eventually be a trial on the issues where evidence is submitted to the Court through oral testimony and documentary evidence.