Massachusetts Divorce Laws

Massachusetts Divorce Law Details

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

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 they 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.

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 are 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 then 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.