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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

Massachusetts divorce laws can be found in Chapter 208, sections 1-5 and 21 of the 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

Generally, there is ninety-day waiting period unless the court orders otherwise.

'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.); and
  • Absence (raises presumption of death).

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.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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