Filing for divorce is a pretty complicated process, as it can be costly and time-consuming. 

In addition to that, filing for divorce varies depending on what state you live in. If you live in Massachusetts, here is a guide for the steps you need to take to file for a divorce.

How To File For Divorce In Massachusetts

  1. Meet The Residency Requirements

Before you can file for a divorce in Massachusetts, the first thing you need is to meet the state’s residency requirements. Though, the residency requirements for filing for a divorce in Massachusetts are a little complicated. 

The residency requirements for a Massachusetts divorce rely on where you were when you decided to get a divorce. If the cause of your divorce occurred within Massachusetts, then you must remain in Massachusetts to file for divorce. If the cause of your divorce occurred in another state, you can still obtain a divorce in Massachusetts if you have lived there for at least one year. 

  1. Preparing Your Forms

The second prerequisite requirement to file for a divorce is to prepare the forms that the state requires. The first form to complete is the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form

Depending on the county where you or your spouse live, you may require additional forms. You must also state your grounds for divorce. 

What are the Legal Grounds for Divorce in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, there are three types of divorces. They are no-fault 1A divorce, no-fault 1B divorce, and fault-based divorce. 

There must be a legal ground for a divorce. You can file for a divorce for the following fault grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Intentional Desertion of at least one year
  • Abuse and cruel treatment 
  • A felony conviction of at least five or more years sentenced 
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Impotence

If none of the reasons listed above apply to you, Massachusetts also has a no-fault divorce option. A no-fault divorce can be filed by stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken. 

In Massachusetts, there are two types of no-fault divorce. The first is known as 1A no-fault divorces.

The second type of no-fault divorce is 1B no-fault divorces. The difference between 1A and 1B no-fault divorces is that 1A is a joint or uncontested petition while 1B is contested

Filing For A Divorce

You will file for the divorce in the county’s courthouse, where one of the spouses resides. After filing for your forms, you must pay a court fee. 

The average filing fee in Massachusetts is $200. You may ask for a fee waiver if you cannot afford the filing fee. 

If you are the supposed defendant and your spouse filed a divorce against you, you need to respond as quickly as you can. Otherwise, your spouse can get a default/uncontested divorce. 

Serving Your Forms

For 1B divorces, there are multiple ways to serve your spouse the divorce complaint. These options are:

  • Sheriff deputy
  • Private process service
  • Delivering the documents to the defendant’s attorney
  • You might deliver it to your spouse if they signed an Acceptance of Service

But if your spouse is in jail, deployed in the military, or you cannot locate them, you may have to try another way of serving your forms. You can check the court clerk about service options in these situations. 

Financial Disclosure

Finally, both spouses must disclose their finances to one another. 

Learn More

Do you have any other questions on filing for divorce? Check out our article “How to File for Divorce” for additional information.

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