Divorce is a complex legal process that could involve several months or more of negotiations between spouses sometimes with family court intervention. Massachusetts allows either spouse to file for divorce on either a fault or no-fault basis as long as they meet the residency requirements and other obligations. Read on to learn more about how to get a divorce in Massachusetts.
What You Need To Know About Divorce Proceedings in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, the requirements to file for divorce include the following:
- The plaintiff has lived in the Commonwealth for at least one year before filing for divorce
- The cause of the divorce occurred in the Commonwealth, and the plaintiff is a resident of Massachusetts, OR
- The spouses lived together in the Commonwealth, the cause for divorce happened in another state, and either spouse is a Massachusetts resident.
There is a six-month waiting period to have a judge hear your case in family court if you or your spouse file a Complaint for Divorce. There will also be a 90-day Nisi waiting period between when the Judge grants your divorce and when the Commonwealth recognizes it.
If you and your spouse agree to the terms of your divorce you can file a Joint Petition for Divorce. If you and your spouse file a Joint Petition for Divorce, you can bypass the initial six-month waiting period but will have to wait for a 120-day Nisi period to become legally divorced after the Judge grants your divorce. The Nisi period means neither spouse can remarry immediately after the Judge grants the divorce in the hearing.
Massachusetts is an equitable property division state, meaning that if the court orders that each spouse receive certain property from the marital estate, it will not necessarily divide the property 50-50. Instead, a family court Judge can make the ultimate determination on what is fair for each spouse to receive during the divorce proceedings, including spousal support payments (alimony).
Divorcing With Children in Massachusetts
If you and your spouse disagree on child custody and child support, the Judge can decide what works best for the child. The court will consider the child’s age, health, social development, home life, and potential benefits/risks of staying in either parent’s home.
You and your spouse may come to an agreement that the court will review. If the court determines that the agreement between you and your spouse benefits the child, it will approve your parenting plan. However, if the Judge decides that your agreement with your spouse fails to meet the child’s needs, they may decide on new custody and child support rules through court orders.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Salem, MA
For help with a divorce anywhere in Massachusetts, turn to the experienced team at Koiles Pratt Family Law Group. We have offices in Salem and Beverly. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation with a divorce attorney.