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Massachusetts Divorce Laws

Massachusetts and all other states have certain divorce laws that address eligibility, restrictions, and the legal process for getting a marriage dissolved. These may include residency restrictions that require one or both spouses to have lived in the state for a certain period of time, or a minimum length of separation before the parties file for divorce. While state laws used to require proof that one of the spouses was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, all states now allow "no-fault" divorce.

Read on to learn more about Massachusetts divorce laws.

Divorce Requirements in Massachusetts

The table below outlines some of the most important provisions of Massachusetts divorce laws. See FindLaw's Divorce section and the below links for more articles and resources.

Code Section

§ Chapter 208 et seq. of Massachusetts General Laws

Residency Requirements

Spouses must meet one of the following residency requirements:
  • Spouses must have lived together in the commonwealth as husband and wife;
  • The plaintiff (person filing the divorce petition) must have lived in the state for at least one year before filing;
  • The cause of the divorce occurred in the commonwealth and the plaintiff is a resident of the state; or
  • The cause for divorce happened in another state, the spouses lived together in Massachusetts, and at least one spouse is a resident of Massachusetts

Waiting Period

The waiting period is 6 months

'No-Fault' Grounds for Divorce

Since Massachusetts is a “no-fault" divorce state, the plaintiff need only claim there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. That means there are issues with the marriage that cannot be resolved and there is no chance of reconciliation between the spouses

Defenses to a Divorce Filing

There are no defenses to a divorce filing because Massachusetts is a no-fault state

Other Grounds for Divorce

Other grounds for divorce in Massachusetts include:

  • Adultery
  • Utter desertion for one year
  • Drug/alcohol addiction
  • Impotency
  • Nonsupport
  • Conviction of crime (sentenced for at least 5 yrs.)
  • Absence (raises the presumption of death)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Massachusetts Divorce Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Help With Your Massachusetts Divorce Case

Depending on the circumstances, divorce cases can be legally complicated, not to mention stressful and emotionally challenging. If you have questions about whether you are eligible for a divorce in Massachusetts or have concerns about the divorce process in general, consider getting professional assistance from a local divorce attorney.

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