Massachusetts offers divorcing couples a variety of options for filing for divorce. Below is a list of options available to Massachusetts residents.

  • Uncontested Divorces – M.G.L. c. 208 §1A

This option is for couples who want an efficient and amicable divorce. If you and your spouse can agree on issues relating to support, custody, and division of assets without the intervention of the court system then this might be the right option for you. All the negotiations and document preparation are done outside of court and typically only require a single visit to the court house to submit the separation agreement to the judge for approval.

In order to proceed with an uncontested divorce you will need the following items:

  1. Joint Petition for Divorce, signed by both of the parties:
  2. A signed and notarized separation agreement. This agreement will contain all the issues that must be resolved in order for a couple to proceed with a divorce in Massachusetts:
  3. An affidavit stating that you both agree that your marriage is irretrievably broken:
  4. Financial statements from both parties:
  5. Certified Copy of your Marriage Certificate: and
  6. Certification of Completion of the Parenting Course, if you have minor children.
  • Fault grounds for Divorce

A party who feels that their marriage failed because of one of the reasons listed below can ask for a divorce under the following fault grounds:

  • Cruel and Abusive Treatment
  • Adultery
  • Gross and Confirmed Habit of Intoxication
  • Neglect to Provide Suitable Support
  • Impotency
  • Confinement in Prison
  • Desertion

Parties choosing to proceed under one of the above stated fault grounds for divorce should be aware that in order to actually obtain a divorce under one of these grounds will need to prove the existence of these circumstances.

  • Irretrievable Breakdown - M.G.L. c. 208 §1B

This is the most common form of divorce filing in Massachusetts. It’s most commonly used when one or both of the parties is unable to agree on issues relating to support, custody, and division of assets, or if one of the parties doesn’t want to get divorced. This complaint tells the court that on a specific date your marriage became irretrievably broken, remains broken to this day, and you wish to end the marriage. If later in the process you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your divorce this action can be converted to a joint petition for divorce or settled with a separation agreement.

Deciding which option is right for you can be overwhelming, and can have unforeseen consequences. If you are not sure which option is right for you consider seeking the advice of a knowledgeable attorney before proceeding.

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