Massachusetts Divorce Laws and How to File 2023 Guide – Forbes Advisor


Massachusetts Divorce Laws and How to File 2023 Guide – Forbes Advisor


Posted: May 25, 2023 at 4:01 am

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If you want to get a divorce in Massachusetts, you need to know the state’s laws to dissolve your marriage. These laws govern everything from when you can file for divorce to what happens to your property when your union ends.

This guide explains the laws regarding divorce in Massachusetts so you can know what to expect if you want to end your marriage.

Who can file for divorce in Massachusetts?

There are residency requirements imposed by the state of Massachusetts that you must meet before you can obtain a divorce in the state. Under Massachusetts divorce laws, residency requirements depend on where you lived when the cause of divorce arose.

If the cause of the divorce occurred outside of Massachusetts, you are not allowed to divorce in Massachusetts unless one of the following is true:

  • You and your spouse lived in Massachusetts at some point, and one of you was still living there when the grounds for divorce occurred. An example of this is if you are married and live together in Massachusetts and your spouse cheats on you in Vermont (or any other state).
  • You lived in Massachusetts for at least a year immediately prior to filing for divorce.

If your cause of divorce arose in Massachusetts, you can get a divorce in the state as long as you lived in the state at the time you petitioned the court to dissolve your marriage. However, if there is reason to believe that you moved to Massachusetts only to get a divorce, you will not be granted an annulment.

What are the grounds for filing for divorce in Massachusetts?

When filing for divorce, you must provide a reason for the court to proceed with the termination of the marriage. The official legal term for this is “grounds for divorce.” Massachusetts recognizes grounds for fault and no fault.

Reasons include:

  • adultery
  • impotence
  • Desertion for a period of one year prior to the time of the request for divorce
  • Habitual drug and alcohol intoxication
  • Cruel and abusive treatment
  • Cruel or willful negligence or failure to provide appropriate support and maintenance despite the ability to do so
  • The breakdown of the marriage is irreversible

The irreversible breakdown of the marriage is the grounds that you may include in the no-fault divorce.

How to file for divorce in Massachusetts

You need to file for divorce in Massachusetts in probate and family court. You can locate Contact details for your department On the Massachusetts Court website.

You must submit correct Court papers When you file the application, which will vary depending on whether you are getting a fault or no-fault divorce and depending on whether or not the divorce is contested. You can find Massachusetts divorce forms You must submit an application on the Probate and Family Court website.

You must pay a filing fee when filing for divorce in Massachusetts. There is a $200 fee for filing a divorce complaint and an additional $15 fee. You can request a waiver of these fees by using File for Indigency Online If you are unable to pay it.

Massachusetts Divorce Papers Service

If you and your spouse agree that the marriage should end and you agree on all the issues involved, you can file a joint petition for a no-fault 1A divorce and there is no need to file divorce papers with your spouse.

But, if you are filing for a contested no-fault divorce because you cannot agree on the issues, you can petition for a no-fault 1B divorce and must file the papers for your spouse. Likewise, if you are seeking a wrongful divorce, you must also serve your spouse after submitting the papers to the court.

Reporting the action is necessary to formally alert your spouse that you have commenced court proceedings. You can hire a processing server or pay the bailiff to service these papers for you.

Contested or uncontested divorce

A no-fault Massachusetts 1A divorce can be the simplest way to end your marriage. this Uncontested no-fault divorce. You and your spouse must agree on all of the issues at hand and complete a separation agreement. This process is faster, less expensive, and likely to yield better results as your settlement agreement is drawn up with your spouse.

You can also have a contested divorce, which means asking the court to decide some issues for you. This is more costly, and you and your spouse may end up being unhappy with court decisions about how custody and property should be shared and what support, if any, should be paid.

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What is the waiting period for a Massachusetts divorce?

Divorce 1A is final 120 days after the date of the court ruling. A 1B or erroneous divorce is considered final 90 days after the court’s ruling.

Get divorce legal help in Massachusetts

Getting a divorce in Massachusetts can be complicated as you must decide on the type of divorce, and it is best to try to resolve issues with your spouse through negotiations rather than asking the court to decide. Massachusetts divorce attorneys can assist you throughout the process, helping you protect your rights and work within the legal system to end your marriage as quickly as possible and with as little cost and stress as possible.

Although divorce can be difficult, an online divorce service can make it easy

Let our specialized and affordable online divorce service help you with all matters related to your divorce.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How is marital property divided in a Massachusetts divorce?

Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state. Some states are equitable apportionment states and others are community ownership states. In a community property state, the marital property is divided 50/50 but in an equitable state such as Massachusetts, the division of property is intended to be fair, not equal. The fair division of property depends on many factors including the role each person played in contributing to the marriage.

Can You Get Alimony in a Massachusetts Divorce?

It is possible to get alimony in Divorce Massachusetts. The court may decide that alimony is appropriate if there is a large gap in earning potential between the spouses. The prenuptial agreement can also specify what maintenance, if any, will be paid, or the couple can negotiate the issue of maintenance and reach an agreement on their own if they are seeking an uncontested divorce.

How long does a Massachusetts divorce take?

The timeline for divorce in Massachusetts varies based on the legal grounds for terminating the union. For example, if you filed for divorce by reason of desertion, your spouse must have deserted you for one year prior to filing for divorce. Once you have filed for divorce for any reason, your divorce will become final 90 days after the court decides a degree 1B divorce or fault divorce, or 120 days after the court decides a degree 1A divorce.

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Kristi Pepper is a personal financial and legal writer with over a decade of experience. She received her JD from the University of California School of Law and was an assistant professor early in her career, teaching paralegal studies and related courses. In addition to writing for the web, she has also designed written courses and textbooks focusing on a variety of legal topics.

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