Massachusetts Massachusetts

Divorce Law Guide

Massachusetts Divorce Overview

Residency Requirement
Living Separate & Apart
Processing Time
Filing Fee
12 months
120 days

The facts about divorce in Massachusetts

Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is the legal process of severing a marriage contract, which is overseen by a court of law in the state in which one or both of the divorcing spouses live. The process for getting a divorce and acceptible grounds for divorce vary from state to state.

In Massachusetts, a divorce can be completed on average in a minimum of 120 days, with court fees of $215.00. The state has divorce residency requirements that require the spouse filing for the divorce to have lived in Massachusetts for a minimum of twelve months.

On this page, you can learn about Massachusetts' grounds for divorce, how the divorce process works, and about other parts of the divorce process, such as Massachusetts alimony calculation, the property division process and more.

Massachusetts Divorce Law Summary

What are the Grounds for Divorce?

The state of Massachusetts, the one needing the divorce must have lived in the state for one year. Once done, the individual wishing a divorce can file the documents with the county court that they reside in.

Massachusetts recognizes both a no-fault and a fault divorce which requires appropriate documentation. For a no-fault divorce, a petition must be filed though unlike other states, it does not require both parties to agree. The party submitting just needs to prove that the marriage has become irretrievably broken.

For the fault divorce, the state of Massachusetts only recognizes "Adultery, impotency, utter desertion continued for one year next prior to the filing of the complaint, gross and confirmed habits of intoxication caused by voluntary and excessive use of intoxicating liquor, opium, or other drugs, cruel and abusive treatment, or, if a spouse being of sufficient ability, grossly or wantonly and cruelly refuses or neglects to provide suitable support and maintenance for the other spouse."

Massachusetts Divorce Guide - Frequently Asked Questions

In state of Massachusetts a number of factors are taken into account when ending a marriage.

1. Massachusetts Grounds for Divorce FAQ

Is Massachusetts a no-fault divorce state?

Massachusetts allows no-fault divorces, which means that a divorce is granted without establishing the fault of either spouse for causing the divorce. Grounds for a no-fault divorce in Massachusetts may be "irreconcilable differences", or similar grounds.

Does Massachusetts allow at-fault divorces?

In addition to no-fault grounds for divorce, Massachusetts is a fault divorce state which provides the option to file for a traditional at-fault divorce. Suing for an at-fault divorce alleges that the filer's spouse is the cause of the divorce due to engaging in one of Massachusetts' at-fault divorce grounds, such as adultery, abuse, or insanity.

In some cases, an at-fault divorce is pursued because it can entitle the suing spouse to a greater share of marital property or even punitive alimony payments if their partner's fault is proven. If their spouse contests these allegations, they may be challenged in court, which can lead to a lengthy and expensive legal process.

Does the state of Massachusetts allow incompatibility as grounds for divorce?

Yes, Massachusetts does allow incompatibility to be used as grounds for having a divorce.

Can you get a divorce in Massachusetts for living separate and apart?

In divorce law, "living seperate and apart" refers to married spouses who are living separate from each other, not engaging in a traditional marital relationship, and do not intend to repair the marriage.

Massachusetts does not allow a divorce to be granted solely on the grounds of living seperate and apart from your spouse. You must instead file for divorce under one of Massachusetts' accepted grounds for divorce.

2. Massachusetts Divorce Process FAQ

Does state of Massachusetts allow legal separation?

Legal separation (otherwise known as "judicial separation") is a legal process that enables spouses to be de facto separated while remaining legally married.

Massachusetts does not grant judicial separation orders to married couples who wishes to live separately, so a divorce petition should be pursued instead.

What's the difference between a divorce and an annulment in Massachusetts?

While a divorce is the process of exiting a legally valid marriage, an annulment is the process of rendering a marriage null and void. An annulment makes it legally as if a marriage never took place to begin with.

Generally, annulment is used to conclude a marriage that should not have been legally recognized in the first place, such as a marriage where one of the spouses was unable to consent (by virtue of being underage, due to mental incapacity, or even intoxication), a marriage that was entered into under duress or via fraudulent means, or when one of the spouses was already legally married.

How long do I have to live in in the state of Massachusetts to get a divorce?

The state of Massachusetts requires that spouses suing for divorce to have lived in the state for a minimum of twelve months prior to filing divorce papers. Otherwise, Massachusetts courts are not considered to have jurisdiction over the divorce case.

What is the filing fee for a divorce in Massachusetts?

The court fees for filing the paperwork for a basic divorce in a Massachusetts court is $215.00. However, the total costs for a divorce can be much higher - especially in the case of a contested divorce, where attorney fees and mediation costs average from $15,000 to $20,000 or more.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Massachusetts?

If the process moves along without holdups, the paperwork for a divorce in Massachusetts can be processed in a minimum of 120 days. However, if the spouses are not in agreement about the divorce process, a contested divorce can take significantly longer.

3. Massachusetts General Divorce FAQ

Can my spouse stop me from getting a divorce?

Even if one spouse is opposed to getting a divorce, they cannot stop their partner from filing for and receiving a divorce in Massachusetts. While filing a non-contested joint petition for divorce speeds up the process, either spouse can file for divorce individually at any time.

Massachusetts permits spouses to sue for an at-fault divorce, and in this case their partner can contest the allegations in court. A non-fault petition for divorce, however, can generally not be contested by an unwilling spouse in Massachusetts.

Does Massachusetts have any limitations on remarriage after a divorce?

Massachusetts has no mandatory waiting period between the finalization of a divorce and either of the ex-spouses getting remarried. Remarriage following a divorce may affect the continued payment of alimony.

What is the divorce rate in Massachusetts?

According to the most recent CDC study, the yearly divorce rate in Massachusetts is 7 per 1,000 total population. The national divorce rate is 6.9 per 1,000 total population. Various studies suggest that nationwide, 30% to 50% of all marriages end in divorce.

Does Massachusetts recognize same sex divorces?

Massachusetts recognizes both same sex marriages and same sex divorces. The process of getting a seme-sex divorce is the same as a heterosexual divorce.

| State Law Official Text

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