Massachusetts Divorce Laws

Divorce Laws in MA

If you’re considering a divorce in Massachusetts, it’s important to be aware of the state’s laws on dissolving a marriage. These laws cover everything from when to file for divorce to what happens to your property upon the conclusion of the union. With this guide, you can make sure you’re well-informed and prepared with what to expect if you choose to end your marriage in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Divorce Law Details

There is an ongoing debate happening all across the country as to what should be considered the legal definition of marriage. It would seem that this is an issue that is being resolved on a state-by-state basis.

Massachusetts divorce

Just as every state gets to impose their own versions of gun laws, bankruptcy laws, and DUI laws they also get to set forth marriage and divorce laws. Although the definition of marriage might change, divorce is certainly an understandable concept that everyone can agree on.

Massachusetts divorce laws begin with residency requirements. You need to be a resident of Massachusetts for at least one year before you can file a petition for divorce. Even if the action for the grounds of your divorce occurred in a different state, you still need to have lived in Massachusetts for at least a year.

The other basic Massachusetts divorce law that applies to everyone is the filing fee. It will cost $200 to file your petition with the court and another $30.00 to have those papers served to your spouse by a member of the Massachusetts Sheriff’s Department.

Filing with the Court in Massachusetts

You must file your Massachusetts divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in Massachusetts are listed below:

  • Suffolk Probate and Family Court:
    24 New Chardon Street, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02114 Phone: (617) 788-8304 Fax: (617) 788-8983
  • Middlesex Probate and Family Court:
    208 Cambridge Street, East Cambridge, MA 02141 Phone: (617) 768-5808 Fax: (617) 225-0781
  • Bristol County Probate and Family Court:
    289 Rock St # 303, Fall River, MA 02720 Phone: (508) 672-1751 Fax: (508) 673-4714
  • Hampden Probate and Family Court:
    50 State Street, Springfield, MA 01102-0559 Phone: (413) 748-7760 Fax: (413) 781-5605
  • Worcester Probate and Family Court:
    2 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608 Phone: (508) 770-0825 ext. 200 Fax: (508) 752-6138
  • Essex County Probate and Family Court:
    36 Federal Street, Salem, MA 01970 Phone: (978) 744-1020 x321 Fax: (978) 741-2957
  • Essex County Probate and Family Court:
    2 Appleton Street, Lawrence, MA 01840 Phone: (978) 975-2429 Fax: (978) 687-3694

If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.

Grounds for Filing for Divorce in Massachusetts

A fault divorce means that one spouse is basically blaming the other spouse for their marriage falling apart. The spouse who files for that petition is referred to in the proceedings as the petitioner. The spouse who gets served with the papers is called the respondent.

There are several reasons that the Massachusetts courts accept as grounds for filing for divorce. These are when a spouse commits adultery or is consistently impotent and unable to have conjugal relations. Other grounds for divorce are if it can be proven that a spouse has a substance abuse problem or commits recurring acts of physical and/or emotional cruelty.

One unique factor for Massachusetts divorce grounds is if a spouse neglects or refuses to provide financial support for the marriage.

No-Fault Divorce in Massachusetts

A no-fault divorce is where both spouses mutually agree that their marriage has failed. It’s broken and can’t be fixed. A petition for a no-fault divorce can be entered with the court when both spouses sign an agreement stating their intentions.

Typically a no-fault divorce will be resolved quicker than a fault divorce. However, the court will still allow twenty days between the time of filing for the divorce and setting the hearing date.

Distribution of Property in a Massachusetts Divorce

Massachusetts has deemed itself to be an equitable distribution state when it comes to divorce property. This doesn’t mean that is it a 50/50 split but that the court decides what is considered fair in terms of splitting up the property.

Some of the factors that are taken into account are how long the marriage lasted, what each spouse contributed to the marriage and their potential for future earning. The issue of child custody also comes into play especially when it is determined where the children will be living.

Any assets or property that were owned by either spouse before the marriage are basically “off the table” and remain with the spouse who owns them.

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