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Massachusetts Divorce Laws and Requirements

For those looking to pursue divorce in the state of Massachusetts, there are some requirements that must be taken into consideration. The legal process of divorce can be complicated; therefore, it is in the best interest of each individual to consider hiring an attorney who focuses on divorce and family law, even if the divorce is considered “uncontested.”

Residency Requirements
In Massachusetts, the couple must have lived as spouses in the state in order to petition for divorce. If the cause of divorce happened within Massachusetts, one spouse must be considered a resident of the sate. If the grounds for divorce occurred out of the state, the plaintiff must have lived in Massachusetts for the period of one year prior to filing for divorce.

What is Considered Fault Grounds for Divorce
Fault grounds for divorce within Massachusetts can include, but are not limited to:

  • Adultery
  • Spousal/child abuse
  • Alcohol or drug dependency
  • Financial and emotional neglect of a spouse
  • Marriage is considered “irreparable”
  • One spouse has deserted the marriage for at least one year prior to filing
  • One spouse has been incarcerated for 5 years or more

Marital Asset and Debt Division
Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state. This means that assets and debts must be divided equally among the spouses. This asset/debt division can be outlined in a Separation Agreement written by the spouses attorney(s). If the divorce is considered uncontested or no-fault, the agreement must be submitted to the court for review. If the judge feels the Separation Agreement has successfully divided the marital assets and debts, the agreement will be accepted.

In the case of a faulted or contested divorce, the assets and debts can be divided as the court sees fit. This can include the division of the home, family business, and/or retirement benefits of each spouse. The division of assets in the case of contested divorce can become complicated. For instance, if one spouse owned a business and the other spouse took care of the home or children, and/or contributed financially in any way to the business, that spouse could be entitled to compensation for their contribution.

If you are considering filing for divorce in Massachusetts, it is highly recommended you consult with an experienced Massachusetts divorce attorney to best understand your options.

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