Divorce 101: A Quick Intro To Filing For Divorce In Massachusetts

Many couples begin their marriage with great hopes and expectations, only to end up in a relationship that unfortunately does not work. Divorce is the legal process that terminates a marriage.  There are many steps in the divorce process in Massachusetts and many avenues to take depending on your individual situation. Here is a brief introduction to filing for divorce in Massachusetts and some of what you may encounter.

  • A divorce can be categorized as “no-fault” or “fault.”
  • There are two categories of a no-fault divorce. They are “Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage 1A,” and “Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage 1B.”
  • 1A means that both spouses agree that an irretrievable breakdown of their marriage has occurred and that neither are to blame for the end of the marriage, and they have reached an agreement on all divorce issues including but not limited to alimony, asset division and distribution, child support, custody arrangements and they now want to file a joint petition for divorce with the court. (AKA- Uncontested no-fault divorce)
  • 1B means that only one spouse believes that there is an irretrievable breakdown of their marriage or that both spouses agree that neither are to blame for the end of the marriage, but they cannot reach an agreement on all divorce issues including but not limited to alimony asset division and distribution, child support, custody arrangements, etc. so one party will file a divorce complaint with the court on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. (AKA- Contested no-fault divorce)
  • A 1A uncontested divorce is final 120 days from the date of the court order approving the parties’ divorce agreement (such order usually entering on the date of your uncontested divorce hearing).
  • A 1B divorce is final 90 days from the date the court issues a judgment ‘nisi’ of divorce issues.  A judgment ‘nisi’ of divorce will issue after a trial of your divorce case if a trial is necessary to resolve divorce issues the parties cannot settle or on the date of your uncontested divorce hearing if you ultimately settle all the divorce issues of your contested divorce case without needing a trial.
  • If one of the two parties disagrees with the grounds for divorce, the divorce will initially be a “contested” divorce with one of the contested issues being “fault”.
  • A fault divorce proceeding can be more costly and drawn out than a no-fault one. This is because of the court processes required to prove the fault of an accused spouse.
  • There are seven categories of a fault divorce: adultery, non-support, cruel and abusive treatment, gross and confirmed habits of intoxication, impotency, desertion, and a prison sentence of five years or longer.
  • Even if both parties agree on the grounds for the divorce, if they do not have an agreement on all other divorce issues, the divorce will still be a “contested” divorce regarding those divorce issues not yet agreed to.

These are just a few of the terms and categories that you will run into when filing for the dissolution of your marriage. An experienced divorce attorney will help make the process go as smoothly as possible. We will advise you on how to proceed with your case in the most cost effective and time efficient manner. Call our office to speak with an experienced divorce attorney and learn your options.