The following is provided for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be comprehensive or to be interpreted as legal advice. It also shall not be interpreted in such a manner as to form an attorney-client relationship. For such advice, consult an experienced Family Law attorney.
There are two types of no fault divorce actions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
1. Uncontested Divorce (1A Divorce) – Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208 Section 1A - An Uncontested 1A Divorce is a simplified type of no fault divorce available to parties when they are in full and complete agreement as to all terms of the divorce and the fact that the marriage has experienced an irretrievable breakdown. The parties jointly request a hearing date and typically the divorce becomes final 120 days after the hearing date. Even though the parties are in agreement, the court still retains its discretion as to whether there has been an irretrievable breakdown, whether the agreement is fair and reasonable and whether the divorce will be allowed.
2. Contested Divorce (1B Divorce) – Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208 Section 1B - A Contested 1B Divorce is a no fault type of divorce available to a plaintiff who wishes to end their marriage and is not in agreement with the other spouse. Under this section of the divorce law, the plaintiff does not have to assert that either party is at fault but only that the marriage has experienced an irretrievable breakdown. From the date of filing, the divorce may be granted no earlier than six months. When a divorce is granted pursuant to this section of the divorce law, the divorce will become final 90 days after the hearing date. The court may grant such a divorce upon solely the plaintiff's testimony that the marriage has irretrievably broken.
In addition to the two types of no fault divorces available in the Commonwealth, Massachusetts still retains seven fault grounds under which divorces have been historically granted.
The fault grounds are:
When a divorce is filed under one of these fault grounds, a hearing date can be requested in as little as 20 days after the defendant has been served the complaint for divorce. This type of divorce will also become final 90 days after the hearing date. However, testimony and/or evidence will be required for the court to find that the grounds exist to grant the divorce on these fault grounds. For this reason, it is often wise to file a fault based divorce that includes an alternate assertion of an irretrievable breakdown.