A Massachusetts divorce, or dissolution of marriage, can be filed in Massachusetts by either spouse to end the marital relationship. Upon completion of your Massachusetts divorce, the parties are restored back to single status. The court will also issue any necessary orders for child support and custody, alimony (spousal support) and the division of community and separate assets and debts. LegalZoom can assist you in the document preparation and filing for your uncontested Massachusetts divorce without the expense of an attorney.
Types of Divorce in Massachusetts
Uncontested Divorce in Massachusetts
A divorce in Massachusetts on the ground of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage may be commenced with the filing of:
- a petition signed by both joint petitioners or their attorneys;
- a sworn affidavit that is either jointly or separately executed by the petitioners that an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage exists; and
- a notarized separation agreement executed by the parties except as hereinafter set forth and no summons or answer shall be required.
After a hearing on the spouses? separation agreement which has been presented to the court, the court will, within thirty days of the hearing, make a finding as to whether or not an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage exists and whether or not the agreement has made proper provisions for custody, support and maintenance, alimony, and the disposition of marital property, where applicable. The court will make no inquiry into, nor consider any evidence of, the individual marital fault of the parties. If the finding is in the affirmative, the court will approve the agreement and enter a judgment of divorce.
In the event that the court does not approve the agreement as executed, or modified by agreement of the parties, the agreement will become null and void and of no further effect between the parties. The action will be treated as dismissed, but without prejudice.
Alternatives to Divorce in Massachusetts
A legal separation can be filed by a married person who wishes to maintain the marriage but physically separate and try to resolve any problems in the marriage. The grounds for legal separation in Massachusetts are:
- A spouse fails, without cause, to provide support;
- Desertion; or
- Gives the other spouse justifiable cause to live apart.
The court may award spousal and child support. If the grounds for legal separation occurred in Massachusetts, one spouse must be a resident. If the grounds occurred outside of the state, the Petitioner spouse must have been a resident for one year.
An annulment is sought in order to nullify the marriage and disavow its existence, returning the parties to their prior single status, as if they never married. The person seeking the annulment must prove that the prerequisites for annulments are met. The prerequisites tend to be more difficult to establish and therefore many lawyers advise clients to file for divorce.