Types of a Massachusetts Divorce

by | Jan 22, 2024 | Divorce |

In Massachusetts, a divorce is filed as “no-fault” or “fault”. Either of these are contested or uncontested. Before you file, you’ll need to choose the type that’s right for you.

Contested or uncontested

“Contested” means that one person disagrees with the divorce or the terms of the divorce. “Uncontested” means that both people agree about everything they file.

Fault or no-fault

There are 7 “fault” grounds or reasons, and also a “no fault” grounds. The “fault” grounds mean that one person is considered at fault in causing the marriage to end. Most people file a “no fault” divorce. A “no fault” divorce is a divorce where the marriage is broken beyond repair but neither spouse blames the other. In Massachusetts, the no fault divorce grounds is called “Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage.”

1A or 1B : No fault divorce

There are 2 kinds of “irretrievable breakdown” divorces. They’re often called “1A” and “1B,” which refers to the section of the law where they’re found, M.G.L. c. 208.

The most common approach is no-fault based on an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. There are 2 options for a no-fault divorce.

1. File a “1A” divorce if:

  • Both spouses agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, AND
  • Both spouses have reached a written agreement about the following issues:
  • Child support
  • Parenting time
  • Alimony
  • Child custody
  • Dividing marital assets.

This is an uncontested no-fault divorce.

 2. File a “1B” divorce if:

  • One spouse believes there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, OR
  • Both spouses believe the marriage has ended but do not agree on the following issues:
  • Child support
  • Parenting time
  • Alimony
  • Child custody
  • Dividing marital assets

This is a contested no-fault divorce. If you and your spouse come to an agreement after filing, you can file a request to change the divorce complaint from a 1B to a 1A divorce.

Fault divorce

In a fault divorce, the person asking for the divorce must prove specific ground(s) or reason(s) for the divorce. These grounds are listed in M.G.L. c. 208, s. 1:  

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication
  • Cruel and abusive treatment
  • Non-support
  • Impotency
  • A prison sentence of 5 or more years  

The fault divorce process is more time-consuming and expensive than a no-fault divorce.

Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating 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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