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MA Divorce and Family Law Questions and Answers

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Welcome to our Massachusetts Divorce Law Forum, an extensive collection of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers dealing with MA divorce law and MA family law issues, including child support, custody, and alimony.

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Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law Basics

Before we get to the forum, here is some basic information about divorce in Massachusetts. As you read this synopsis, if you see terms you do not understand or that you would like more information about, just use our search tool to find more in-depth discussions. Although family law encompasses many subjects in addition to divorce, including adoption and annulment, in this section we focus on the basic information you will need to understand divorce in MA and to begin the process.

Today, as it was in the past, it is still possible to file for divorce based on fault grounds, such as adultery, abusive treatment, impotency, desertion, confinement to prison, and “gross habits of intoxication.” Typically, however, modern divorces in MA are “no fault,” meaning both parties acknowledge the marriage is broken and that it cannot be repaired, and neither party attempts to blame the other for this breakdown. The main reason fault divorces are rare is that they require the filing party to prove the grounds, something that can be difficult and expensive.

No fault divorces in Massachusetts are often referred to as “1A” and “1B” divorces, in reference to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208, Sections 1A and 1B. In a 1A divorce, both spouses file an affidavit attesting to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, a petition for divorce, and Separation Agreement. In a 1B divorce, one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce. When this happens, it does not matter if the other party agrees to get a divorce, and no Separation Agreement is required.

Once the action is commenced, the length and cost of the proceedings will vary, based primarily by how well the two spouses are able to work together and come to agreements on the key points, including property division, custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, etc. If the parties are able to cooperate, they can file jointly, include documentation to support the proposed settlement contained in the Separation Agreement, and wait for the divorce to be finalized.

In other cases, where the proceedings are not amicable, the process can take some time and be quite expensive. Divorce litigation will usually include discovery (including interrogatories, depositions, and requests for financial records and other documents). Pretrial motions will also be filed, regarding such things as court dates and discovery disputes. When children are involved, the process may be even more involved, as you and your spouse work through issues related to custody, visitation and support.

Hope all that helps. Please let us know what you think.

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