Filing for divorce in Massachusetts: initial choices to make

Fear of the unknown can be a powerful factor keeping Quincy couples from making the difficult decision to separate, even when they know in their hearts that they have reached the end of a marriage. In order to help de-mystify divorce, we'll be taking a look at one of the very basic steps: the actual divorce filing. The information in this post is not intended as legal advice for any particular situation, but simply as a general background that spouses should have.

When filing for a divorce, Quincy residents will have to choose what type of divorce to file. The first choice will be whether the divorce is contested (in which one spouse does not want the divorce or they do not agree upon the terms) or uncontested (in which there is no disagreement). This should be a fairly self-evident matter to consider.

Next will be the choice of whether to file a fault or a no-fault divorce. Massachusetts law provides several different possible grounds for a fault divorce (i.e., a divorce in which one spouse was responsible for the end of the marriage). These generally include infidelity, alcohol or drug abuse, abandonment, domestic abuse or violence, imprisonment, and a few others.

Even in a no-fault divorce, where both parties agree that the marriage has just irretrievably broken down, there are a few choices to make. If there truly are no disputes whatsoever regarding property division, child custody and child support, alimony, or any other legal issues, the divorce is a type 1A. If the spouses do not agree upon all of these terms, however, the divorce is a type 1B.

Spouses seeking a no-fault divorce should be aware that a type 1B filing does not preclude them from shifting to a 1A if they do eventually settle their differences. Family professionals can assist with these types of negotiations and provide specific insights as to how different filing choices will affect the process.

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