Divorce Law Massachusetts

DIVORCE
 
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
 
No-Fault
  1. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and there is no possibility of re-union.

General

  1. This general ground may otherwise be called as fault based grounds where an action for divorce is moved based on the following grounds:
    1. Impotence;
    2. imprisonment for over 5 years;
    3. adultery;
    4. alcoholism and/or drug addiction;
    5. desertion without support of spouse for 1 year before the filing for divorce;
    6. cruel and inhuman treatment; and
    7. nonsupport whereby a spouse is able to provide support but grossly, wantonly, or cruelly refuses or neglects to provide suitable maintenance for the complaining spouse.
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS
  1. If the grounds for divorce occurred in Massachusetts, one spouse must be a resident.
  2. If the grounds occurred outside of the state, the spouse filing must have been a resident for 1 year.
  3. The divorce should be filed for in the county in which the spouses last lived together.
  4. If neither spouse currently lives in that county, then the divorce may be filed for in a county where either spouse currently resides.

PROCEDURE

  1. An action for divorce on the ground of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage may be commenced with the filing of the petition in the Probate Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
    1. a petition signed by both joint petitioners or their attorneys;
    2. a sworn affidavit that is either jointly or separately executed by the petitioners that an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage exists; and
    3. a notarized separation agreement executed by the parties except as hereinafter set forth and no summons or answer shall be required.
  2. After a hearing on a separation agreement which has been presented to the court, the court shall, within thirty days of said hearing, make a finding as to whether or not an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage exists.
  3. The court shall also find out whether or not the agreement has been made proper provisions for custody, for support and maintenance, for alimony and for the disposition of marital property, where applicable.
  4. In the event the notarized separation agreement has not been filed at the time of the commencement of the action, but it shall in any event be filed with the court within ninety days following the commencement of said action.
  5. On affirmative findings, the court shall approve the agreement and enter a judgment of divorce nisi.
  6. Thirty days from the time that the court has given its initial approval to a dissolution agreement of the parties which makes proper provisions for custody, support and maintenance, alimony, and for the disposition of marital property, where applicable, a judgment of divorce shall be entered.

FOR FAULT-BASED DIVORCE

  1. A Complaint for Divorce may be filed for fault based divorce.
  2. The procedure is lengthy as the facts requires to be proved of the allegation made by the plaintiff.
  3. The complaint for divorce may or may not be accompanied by a separation agreement.

LEGAL SEPARATION

  1. The grounds for legal separation are:
    1. a spouse fails without cause to provide support;
    2. desertion; or
    3. gives the other spouse justifiable cause to live apart.
  2. The court may award support to the spouse and children living apart. If the grounds for legal separation occurred in Massachusetts, one spouse must be a resident.
  3. If the grounds occurred outside of the state, the spouse filing must have been a resident for One year.
PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION]
  1. The court may divide all of the spouse's property, including any gifts and inheritances, based on the following factors:
    1. the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in value of the property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
    2. the length of the marriage;
    3. the age and health of the spouses;
    4. the occupation of the spouses;
    5. the amount and sources of income of the spouses;
    6. the vocational skills of the spouses;
    7. the employability of the spouses;
    8. the liabilities and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income;
    9. the conduct of the parties during the marriage [if the grounds for divorce are fault-based]; and
    10. any health insurance coverage.
ALIMONY
  1. Either spouse may be ordered to pay maintenance to the other.
  2. The court considers the following factors before awarding for alimony:
    1. the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in value of any property,
    2. the length of the marriage;
    3. the age and health of the spouses;
    4. the occupation of the spouses;
    5. the amount and sources of income of the spouses;
    6. the vocational skills of the spouses;
    7. the employability of the spouses;
    8. the liabilities and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income;
    9. the conduct of the parties during the marriage [if the grounds for divorce are fault-based];
    10. any health insurance coverage; and
    11. the present and future needs of any children of the marriage.
CHILD CUSTODY:
  1. Custody may be awarded to either or both parents or to a third party.
  2. If there is no marital misconduct, the rights of each parent to custody shall be deemed to be equal.
  3. The happiness and welfare of the child shall be the factors that the court considers amongst all other factors:
    1. whether or not the child's present or past living conditions adversely affect his physical, mental, moral, or emotional health;
    2. whether any family member abuses alcohol or other drugs;
    3. whether either parent has deserted the child;
    4. whether either parent has committed any acts of domestic violence; and
    5. whether the parents have a history of being able and willing to cooperate in matters concerning the child.
  4. Joint custody may also be awarded if both parents agree and unless the court finds that joint custody is not in the best interests of the child.
  5. If the issue of custody is contested and the parents desire some form of shared custody, a shared parenting plan must be submitted to the court.
CHILD SUPPORT
  1. The court may order either parent to provide maintenance, support (including health insurance), and education for any minor child.
    1. the parent to pay support has other minor children and there are insufficient financial resources available;
    2. the parent to pay support has extraordinary expenses and
    3. other unusual circumstances.