Getting a divorce is a legal way to end your marriage. When you file for divorce in Massachusetts, you will need to show that you have lived in the state for at least 12 consecutive months or that the reason your marriage is ending happened in the state. If the reason happened in the state, you also have to show that you lived together in the state as a couple prior to the application for divorce.
What happens next will depend on the type of divorce you choose. You can select either a no-fault or fault-based divorce. These divorces may be contested or uncontested.
The two types of no-fault divorces
In Massachusetts, there are two types of no-fault divorces: a “1A” divorce and a “1B” divorce. Couples who both agree that their marriage is over or has irretrievably broken down and have consented to a written agreement on critical issues at stake in the divorce may consider filing a “1A” divorce. These critical issues can include:
- Child custody and parenting time
- The division of marital property and assets
- Child support
Alternatively, couples who agree that their marriage is over or irretrievably broken down but cannot come to an agreement on these critical issues may consider filing a “1B” divorce. This type of divorce is also referred to as a contested no-fault divorce.
What is a fault-based divorce?
If you are seeking a fault divorce, you will have to show that there are specific grounds for your divorce. For example, grounds that are recognized in Massachusetts include:
- Going to prison for five or more years
- Cruelty or abuse
- Habits of intoxication, gross and confirmed
- Neglect to sufficiently support the other spouse
You should know that generally, proving a fault-based divorce is much more difficult and time-consuming than if you go through a no-fault, uncontested divorce.
Can you void your marriage instead?
Sometimes, people wish to completely void their marriages, which is known as annulment. You can only get an annulment in limited cases where you were not legally permitted to marry. For example, if one spouse was already married when you got married, then your marriage cannot be valid. If you married someone who turned out to be a close relative, then you may also be able to annul your marriage.
The divorce process can be stressful, whether your divorce is a no-fault or fault-based divorce. There are specific requirements for each kind of divorce or annulment that your attorney can address with you. Then, you’ll know what to expect as you move forward.