Massachusetts Divorce Law

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Massachusetts Divorce Guidelines

Massachusetts's Residency Requirements

If the grounds for divorce occurred outside of Massachusetts, the petitioner must have been a Massachusetts resident for 1 year before filing the divorce papers.

If the grounds for divorce occurred in Massachusetts, either spouse must be a Massachusetts resident.

 

Massachusetts's Grounds for Divorce

Massachusetts residents may file for divorce under fault or no-fault grounds.

Massachusetts's no-fault grounds is:

  • irretrievable breakdown of the marriage

Massachusetts's fault grounds include:

  • adultery
  • desertion without support for 1 year or more
  • imprisonment for 5 years or more
 

Massachusetts's Child Custody Guidelines

Divorcing parents are allowed to collaborate on a child custody arrangement. If the parents cannot reach a decision, a Massachusetts court will make a ruling.

Massachusetts courts consider factors such as:

  • any evidence or history of abuse
  • whether either parent has abandoned the child previously
  • whether the child's environment has negatively influenced their mental, physical, moral, or emotional health
 

Massachusetts's Child Support Guidelines

If the parents cannot agree on the amount of child support and the paying parent, child support will be decided by state-specific calculations and guidelines.

Massachusetts courts consider factors such as:

  • each parent's financial resources
 

Massachusetts's Spousal Support Guidelines

Spousal support can be paid in one lump sum, in installments, or periodically. The spouses may determine the spousal support amount and payment schedule, or the courts may award spousal support.

Massachusetts courts consider factors such as:

  • the needs of each spouse
  • duration of the marriage
  • each spouse's earning capacity and financial resources
  • any marital fault
 

Massachusetts's Property Division Guidelines

Massachusetts has adopted equitable distribution guidelines, which means all property (including gifts and inheritances) will be divided as fairly and equally as possible. Spouses may collaborate on the property distribution, but if they are unable to agree the courts will make a ruling.

Massachusetts courts will consider factors such as:

  • the value of each spouse's property
  • any marital fault
  • each spouse's contribution to the property, including acquisition and upkeep
 

Massachusetts's Venue Guidelines

A petitioner may file the divorce forms in their county of residence, or in the respondent's Massachusetts county of residence.

The divorce forms may also be filed in the last Massachusetts county the spouses last resided together.

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