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Who Can File For Divorce?

Any spouse can file for divorce in Massachusetts when either: 1) the grounds for divorce occurred in the state and one spouse still lives in the state; or 2) the filing spouse has been a resident of Massachusetts for one year. 

What Are The Grounds For Divorce?

In Massachusetts, spouses may jointly file an uncontested divorce action along with a separation agreement, or one spouse may file a contested divorce action. There are “fault” and “no fault” reasons or grounds for divorce. The “fault” grounds include but are not limited to “cruel and abusive treatment” and “desertion.” Most people file a “no fault” divorce based on “irretrievable breakdown of marriage.”

What Is Separate Support?

Commonly referred to as “legal separation,” separate support is a lawsuit that can be filed under G.L. c. 209, § 30 et seq., if you’re married but your spouse has failed to support you or has deserted you; you and your spouse are living separately for “justifiable cause” or have “justifiable cause” to live apart but are still together. In an action for separate support, child custody and child and spousal support may be obtained. This action is independent from divorce proceedings.

How Long Does A Divorce Take?

If you and your spouse agree on the terms of the divorce (uncontested divorce), the case can take only a few months to be completed. Contested divorces, however, may take a year or longer to be resolved, depending on the complexity of the issues involved and whether the case settles or goes to trial.