Divorce FAQ’s

Can I divorce for ‘cause’ in Massachusetts?

Yes, in Massachusetts there are ‘fault’ and ‘no-fault’ divorces.  In a ‘no-fault’ divorce – whether contested or uncontested, the parties allege an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage.  The relationship between the parties cannot be repaired.

There are also ‘fault’ divorces in which the Plaintiff can allege impotence, imprisonment for more than five years, desertion for more than a year, adultery, drug or alcohol addiction or cruel and abusive treatment.   If a divorce is ‘fault’ or ‘no-fault’ usually doesn’t impact the outcome of child support, alimony or division or property.

Where can I file for divorce?

You can file for divorce in the county where you lived when you last lived together.  If you both don’t live in the county where you did together you can file where you now live. You also have to live in Massachusetts for one year prior to filling for divorce.

Is there an ‘easy way’ to get divorced in Massachusetts?

If both parties agree you can file an uncontested Joint Petition for Divorce.

Will my spouse have to pay child support?

The Massachusetts courts use the child support guidelines to determine how much child support is paid.

Can I get alimony?

It depends, there are many factors taken into consideration as far as alimony is concerned, some examples of when alimony is appropriate is when one spouse earns a lot more income than the other spouse, or one spouse is disabled.  Sometimes courts will order rehabilitative alimony so that a spouse can get him or herself back into the work force if appropriate.

Is divorce expensive?

It can be.  If you and your spouse agree on most or everything you can get hire a lawyer for an uncontested divorce and it shouldn’t cost you very much.   Divorces get expensive when the parties fight over financial information, parties allege that the other party is hiding money, one party is self-employed or in contested custody and visitation matters.   Divorce fees can add up fast, which is why most lawyers ask for a retainer.   Some lawyers are doing flat fee divorces – which might make sense in particular cases.

How do I start a divorce if my spouse doesn’t want one?

You can file a Complaint for Divorce in your local Probate and Family Court.   You will be charged a fee.  If you are indigent this fee can be waived.  You will be given a summons that you must have served on your spouse.  This begins the process.

What do I do about bills and visitation with my kids while the divorce is pending?

After you file for divorce or are served with divorce papers you can request Temporary Orders at the Court.  There will be a hearing and you will have a chance to determine child support, visitation, custody and financial matters will be handled during the pendency of the divorce.

Will I have to sell my house? 

This depends on whether you and your spouse can afford to maintain the marital home.  Many people keep their home by buying out the other party.

What about debt?

 Generally, the parties split debt as they split their assets.  It is part of the negotiation process.  It depends on the length of the marriage and other facts.

What about my retirement accounts?

 Depending on the length of marriage the accounts can be divided without penalty and each party will get a percentage.

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