Frequently Asked Questions

These answers are not meant to be comprehensive or to be interpreted as legal advice. For such advice, consult an experienced Family Law attorney.

Q. My spouse and I are still living together; can I still file for divorce?

A. Yes, Massachusetts does not require that one of the spouses move from the marital home in order for a divorce to be filed.

Q. My spouse doesn’t want to get divorced; can I still get divorced?

A. Yes, even if you go through the divorce process and your spouse still refuses to admit that the marriage is over, the Court will grant the divorce upon just your testimony that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Q. My spouse has threatened to quit their job and not support me and/or my children. Can the Court order my spouse to work?

A. Yes, the Court has various remedies if a spouse refuses to meet their support obligations including incarceration, ordering job searches and adjusting the division of assets.

Q. My spouse has a drug or alcohol problem and I fear for the safety of my children when they are with my spouse. What can the Court do to protect my children?

A. The Court has a variety of remedies available including drug and alcohol testing, supervised visitation, and limiting the terms of visitation, as well as in very rare instances prohibiting visitation altogether.

Q. My spouse and I both agree that we want to be divorced and we are in complete agreement as to the terms. Is there a quick and simple way for us to be divorced?

A. Yes, it is possible to proceed in an expedited manner when the parties are in complete agreement. However, the Court still retains the final authority as to whether the terms of the agreement between the parties are fair and reasonable.

Q. My spouse and I last lived together several years ago and I don’t know where my spouse presently resides. Can I still get divorced?

A. Yes, there is a procedure to publish notice and obtain a divorce in these circumstances.

Q. My spouse has been physically abusive and I fear for my safety if I file for divorce. What can I do?

A. In these circumstances, it is possible to ask the Court for a restraining order which will prevent your spouse from contacting you and/or your children.

Q. I am not happy with my present attorney. Can I discharge him?

A. Yes, you are the Client and have the authority to discharge your present attorney. However, the Court still must approve your attorney’s motion to withdraw from the case; this is usually routinely granted.

Q. I was divorced several years ago and I’m unhappy with the terms of the divorce. Can I change these terms?

A. Yes and No. Generally, divisions of property are final – except in cases of fraud. However, child related matters may always be brought back to Court upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances of either party or the child(ren). Alimony is usually modifiable upon a substantial change in circumstances – unless you have an agreement that was written to specifically exclude alimony modifications.

Q. I’m divorced and paying child support and the child just turned 18. Can I terminate the child support?

A. Sometimes. Child support in Massachusetts can continue until 21 if the child is principally dependent upon the party with which the child resides or even 23 if the child is attending an accredited educational institution.

Q. I was just laid off from my job and I can no longer afford the current support payment. Can I change the current support?

A. Yes, it can be changed – but the change will only be retroactive to the date that you serve your ex the complaint for modification. People often end up with large arrearages in these circumstances because they neglect to file and serve such a modification.

Q. I have just relocated to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; can I still get divorced in Massachusetts?

A. It depends; Massachusetts usually has a one year residency requirement before the state will take jurisdiction over you and your marital status. After this period, a divorce can be filed in Massachusetts. However, if you and your spouse last lived together in Massachusetts this requirement does not apply.