Massachusetts Divorce Laws, Attorneys & Family Lawyers MA

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Massachusetts is a state with the second lowest divorce rate of 2.4% per 1,000 of the population, in the US. Massachusetts courts have defined both no-fault and fault divorce grounds for the dissolution of marriage. You can obtain divorce on both grounds. However, the divorce court demands for the evidence and proof against the defendant, in case you have petitioned for a fault divorce.

A divorce in Massachusetts can take maximum nine months and minimum of ninety days. Sometimes a period of a year may be taken because of the prolonged negotiation process.

In Massachusetts annulments are rare. Divorce is a preferred option for bailing out. It can be attributed to the fact that the grounds for annulment are hard to prove.

Massachusetts divorce lawyers and attorneys are providing their services to guide you through the complex and composite process of divorce or annulment.

Divorce Grounds in Massachusetts

You can obtain divorce under the following divorce grounds in Massachusetts:

No-Fault Divorce Grounds in Massachusetts

There is only one no-fault divorce ground in Massachusetts, which is:

Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage:

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage stands for a marital relationship’s breakdown beyond any prospect of reconciliation. You and your spouse can file for divorce if so is the case under this divorce ground. This is a “No-Fault” divorce ground in Massachusetts, under which petition for divorce can’t be issued until both the parties agree to all issues i.e. alimony, child support, division of property and debts etc. In this situation a period of six months is given to both the spouses for reconciliation purpose before the final hearing is held.

Fault Divorce Grounds in Massachusetts

Fault divorce grounds in Massachusetts are:

Adultery:

Adultery comes under fault divorce grounds in Massachusetts. In order to be divorced on this ground the petitioner must prove that the other spouse had committed a sexual intercourse with a third party. After the charge is proven, divorce can be given or obtained.

Impotency:

In Massachusetts divorce is rarely given on this ground. The petitioner has to prove that the accused spouse unable to copulate to get a divorce under this divorce ground in Massachusetts.

Utter Desertion:

To obtain a divorce under this divorce ground in Massachusetts, the petitioner has to prove the respondents utter wilful desertion of him or her with no intention of returning back before the complaint is lodged.

Gross and Confirmed Habits of Intoxication:

In order to be divorced on this ground in Massachusetts, you must prove the liable spouse’s voluntarily habitual involvement in intoxication of alcohol or drugs.

Cruel and Abusive Treatment:

It is one of the most common grounds of divorce in Massachusetts. The bases of this divorce ground in Massachusetts are normally the domestic aggression. Spouses appeal for divorce when extensive quarrel at home is revealed.

Prison Sentence of At Least Five Years:

The petitioner must prove that his or her spouse has been in prison for a period of five or more years, to obtain divorce under this divorce ground in Massachusetts. This ground doesn’t support the time spent in prison but is based upon the length of the sentence.

Non-support:

This is a valid divorce ground in Massachusetts. Divorce complaint could be issued and Judge can announce the divorce if it is proved that the spouse wasn’t and isn’t supporting for a period of one year or more.

Contact a professional divorce attorney or divorce lawyer for detailed information regarding divorce grounds in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Divorce Laws

Massachusetts has following divorce laws:

Residency

Residency is considered an essential part of Massachusetts divorce laws. According to it, one of the spouses must be a resident of the state of Massachusetts for at least 1 year before filing for divorce.

Documents Required for Filing Divorce

According to Massachusetts divorce laws, following documents are required for filing divorce:

  • Complaint for Divorce or Petition for Divorce and
  • Judgment of Divorce

Other documents you may need are:

  • Joint Affidavit under M.G.L.Ch 208, Sec. 1A
  • Marital Settlement Agreement
  • Financial Statement
  • Order for Support
  • Health Insurance
  • Income Assignment
  • Request for Trial – Pre-Trial Assignment

Distribution of Property

In determining the appropriate property distribution award, the courts shall consider the following:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Conduct of the parties
  • Age
  • Health
  • Station
  • Occupation
  • Amount and sources of income
  • Vocational skills
  • Employability
  • Estate
  • Liabilities and needs of each of the parties
  • The opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income.

Change of Name or Restoration of Name

The Massachusetts divorce court granting a divorce, allows a woman to resume her maiden name after divorce.

Mediation Counseling

The court using its own discretion, upon motion of either party, shall order mediation counseling if one spouse refutes other’s claim of irreconcilable differences. The divorce court assigns a qualified professional counselor to resolve the issues.

Alimony

Under the Massachusetts divorce laws, the court considers the following, before determining the amount of alimony:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The conduct of the parties during the marriage
  • Ages of the spouses
  • Health
  • Station
  • Occupation
  • Amount and sources of income
  • Vocational skills
  • Employability
  • Estate
  • Liabilities and needs of each of the parties
  • The opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income.

Child Custody

In accordance with Massachusetts divorce laws, child custody arrangement is decided in the best interests of the child. Massachusetts divorce courts give weightage to all relevant facts.

Child Support

Massachusetts divorce laws have set rules for child support of any child who is 18 but has not yet attained age of 21 years and whose domiciles are in the home of a parent. Furthermore child support will be provided if the child is dependent upon parent for maintenance.

Contact a professional divorce attorney or divorce lawyer for comprehensive divorce laws information in your state.

Massachusetts Annulment Laws

An annulment is the court’s declaration that the marriage never existed or it is invalid. As compared to grounds for divorce, the annulment grounds are tough to prove. Massachusetts annulment laws say that, both the parties have the right to remarry after getting an annulment.

To get annulment in Massachusetts, you have to prove one of the following grounds for annulment set by Massachusetts annulment laws:

Incest

Incest means having marital relations with too close a relative. Massachusetts annulment laws strictly prohibit marriages between parent/child, stepchild, grandparent/grandchild, aunt/nephew or uncle/niece.

Mental Incapacity

Mental incapacity is a state in which a person loses his mental faculty permanently or partially. You can get your marriage annulled under Massachusetts annulment laws if your partner is mentally incapacitated.

Fraudulent Act

Misrepresentation or fraud to get married is a valid Massachusetts annulment ground. You can file for annulment under Massachusetts annulment laws if your spouse has misrepresented him or herself to make you marry him or her.

Duress

Duress is, if a person forces or threatens you into a marriage. According to Massachusetts annulment laws, duress is a legal annulment ground.

Bigamy

You can claim an annulment under Massachusetts annulment laws, if your spouse was already married when s/he married you.

Massachusetts Divorce Laws Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is there any restriction on changing a divorce lawyer while divorce is in process?

    In Massachusetts divorce, if you are not satisfied with the performance of your divorce lawyer, you can hire a new divorce lawyer or divorce attorney. But it is advised not to change a divorce lawyer unless it becomes absolutely necessary. Because if you do so, you will face a couple of difficulties like paying a new divorce lawyer’s fees and since the new lawyer will have to study the case from the beginning, it will be time consuming too.

  2. Does Massachusetts identify drug addiction as a divorce ground?

    Drugs addiction is a valid divorce ground in Massachusetts. In order to get a divorce on this divorce ground in Massachusetts, you have to provide a proof of your spouse’s gross and confirmed habit of drug or liquor addiction.

  3. Can I represent myself in the court for divorce?

    Yes, you can represent yourself in a Massachusetts divorce case. But the recommendation is not to do so, because a divorce lawyer or divorce attorney can represent your case more effectively.

  4. What is the average cost of a divorce in Massachusetts?

    The filing and the order fee which the court charges for a divorce in Massachusetts is $1Different lawyers charges different fees which range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The average cost of Massachusetts divorce is estimated to be $18,000.

  5. What is the minimum time period a divorce in Massachusetts takes?

    You have to wait for at least 90 days after filing for a divorce decree in Massachusetts court to obtain a divorce. However, the average time period for a divorce processing is one year.

  6. Can I move to another state if the court has given me physical custody of my child while my “ex” has the visitation rights?

    You can only do that after either your “ex” gives you a written permission or the court allows you to do so. Otherwise moving to some other state with your kids will be considered breech of divorce agreement.

  7. What is GAL?

    GAL is the abbreviation for “guadian ad litem”, who is appointed by the court as a mental health lawyer to talk with you, your “ex” and your child. GAL gives his or her recommendations to the court. But the fee of the GAL is not payed by the state but by both of the parties.

  8. What is the minimum separation period for a divorce in Massachusetts?

    Massachusetts divorce laws have no clause for a mandatory separation period for filing a divorce petition.

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