Market Your Law Firm. Lawyer Directory. Search Term. Learn about the forms and procedures necessary to file for divorce in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Petitions for Divorce Before the court in Massachusetts can accept your case, you will need to demonstrate that at least one spouse has lived in the state for no less than one year before filing the divorce paperwork. Getting Started In a joint petition, the couple agrees to an uncontested no-fault divorce.
Filling Out the Forms Both 1A and 1B forms ask for the date when the marriage became irretrievably broken. Include the following documents with your petition or complaint: completed certification of vital statistics, and a certified copy of your marriage certificate.
- What is the Difference Between a Fault and No-Fault Divorce in Massachusetts?.
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You can obtain a certified copy from the city or town clerk where you were married. If you were married in Massachusetts, you can get a copy from the registry of vital records. If you have minor children, you will also need to include the following: a certificate that you attended the parent education program unless the court approves a waiver an affidavit of care and custody , and the child support guidelines worksheet. Where to File the Forms You should file your complaint for divorce in the town where you live.
There is no need for service on a 1A divorce because both spouses sign the petition. Financial Disclosures Each spouse should prepare a financial statement and exchange it with the other spouse. Parent Education If there are children under 18 in the family when you file for divorce, both parents must attend an approved parent education class within 60 days after the defendant receives the summons and complaint.
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Basic Information About Divorce and Separation
Read on to learn more about Massachusetts divorce laws. The table below outlines some of the most important provisions of Massachusetts divorce laws. Massachusetts divorce laws can be found in Chapter , sections and 21 of the Massachusetts General Laws. 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. Find your Lawyer Explore Resources For Learn About the Law. Courts are reluctant to change custody arrangements unless the party filing the action shows their home is substantially better for the child.
Fault vs No Fault Divorce in MA
However, if your homes are equally good, there will not be a change. The preference is for stability even if the other parent also offers a good home environment. Even in this day and age, mothers are more likely to secure custody because they act as the primary caregiver. As gender roles adjust, this is equalizing as fathers also gain custody when they request it. Courts focus less on the gender of the parents and more on who provides the most direct care to the children getting them ready for school, doctor appointments, extra curricular activity attendance, etc.
Seven Fault Grounds
Self-aware children who have strong opinions may communicate preferences in custody to the judge. If children have the maturity to report their needs and preferences, there can be an opportunity for them to discuss this with the judge. The parent themselves can move if they chose to, but only without taking the children with them. If a couple is still married or there is no parenting agreement in place, then they could possibly move out of state without letting the other parent know or getting permission from the court.
However, once the other parent finds out, they have the immediate right to go to court and ask for the return of the child while a parenting plan is sorted out through the courts. Modifications reflect the best interest of the child as well as convenience for the parents. For example, an every-other-weekend arrangement may adjust to half the summer or half of all school holidays to make traveling easier. There will also be stipulations on who pays which travel expenses for the child.
If it is better for the child to stay in the area, then custody may be transferred to the parent who is not moving. Parties may agree to a temporary child custody order until the divorce process is complete so the children are assured some stability. This order also includes child support payments. Courts order child custody evaluations when custody is disputed. This is done to assess the best interest of the child and the home where they will thrive.
It is an involved process that is often psychologically challenging for all involved, especially the children. The evaluator meets with all parties involved in the custody decision including parents, doctors, psychologists, teachers, and caregivers. Parents may be subjected to a psychological profile if there are claims of mental instability or substance abuse. The intention is to determine who the children are most bonded to and where they are most likely to thrive after the divorce is finished.
Time with your children depends on how you interact with your child and the relationship that already exists between you.
Divorce A Quick Intro To Filing For Divorce In Massachusetts - Leone Law Offices
Depending on circumstances, you may receive alternating weekends and a week night or the judge may determine it is more appropriate that you start with supervised time with your child. If you were largely an absentee parent, do not expect much time at first until you prove your commitment. The duration of child support payments is set by statutes.
They remain due until emancipation, age 18 or age 21 if the child still requires support, as with current college attendance. There are no other grounds to terminate child support. Even if your income substantially decreases, you can only attempt to reduce the amount of the payment. If you can prove your relationship with your stepchildren is significant and it is in their best interest that it remains intact, you may receive visitation rights. However, the only way to guarantee this is if you adopted the child.
Stepparents do not normally have visitation rights. Property division can be complex, especially if there are assets one party owned before the marriage.
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Many parties agree to property division without litigation. If there is no agreement, the court will determine how to divide property in the most equitable way possible. Generally, whoever wants the house gets to keep it. Usually, that is the parent who maintains custody of the children as a way to minimize disruption in their lives. There are three options you can consider for the marital residence. One is to continue holding it jointly for the benefit of the children.
This is frequently visited when the custodial parent cannot afford to keep the house on their own and requires assistance. The second is to sell the home and split the equity between the parties. This allows for a fresh start and clean break, but it removes children from the only home they may remember.
Finally, there is also the option to cash out the other party and keep the home as a separate asset. You can do this by refinancing the home in your name alone. Even if one of these sounds very appealing, there are tax and financial impacts you may not anticipate. Discuss your decision with an attorney. While pets are valued family members to many, Massachusetts law still treats them as marital property.