Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce in Massachusetts

by | Aug 18, 2021 | Divorce |

If the person filing for divorce alone (the plaintiff) would like to attribute a fault ground for a Massachusetts divorce, the plaintiff can file a fault-based divorce pursuant to M.G.L. c 208, s. 1. According to M.G.L. c. 208, s. 7, there are seven fault ground under which an plaintiff can file. If filing under a fault ground, the ground must be proven with evidence. The grounds are as follows:

  • Cruel and abusive treatment. This is the most common fault ground. If filing under this ground, be prepared to testify regarding the abuse. It is also helpful to provide supporting documentation such as police reports, restraining orders, medical records, etc.
  • Adultery. Proof of sexual intercourse outside the marriage is required.
  • Impotency. This refers to the inability to perform sexually and not merely the inability to have children.
  • Nonsupport. You must prove that your spouse had the ability to support you and that his or her refusal to provide the necessities of life is gross, wanton, and cruel.
  • Desertion for at least one year. Your spouse must have abandoned you without justification or provocation.
  • Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication caused by voluntary and excessive use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Prison sentence for at least five years even if the actual time spend in jail is less than five years. You should file a certified copy of the conviction with the court.

After the divorce hearing, the judge enters a Judgment of Divorce Nisi which becomes final in 90 or 120 days depending on the type of divorce. You cannot remarry until the end of the nisi period. The court order can include spousal support, child custody, child support, parenting time, health insurance and/or a division of property assets and debts. You can also request an order to resume a former name through the divorce process.

Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating a divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.

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