Divorce In Massachusetts: Your Go-To Guide

divorce in Massachusetts
Worthy Staff

By Worthy Staff | Jul 28th, 2019

If you are thinking of divorcing in Massachusetts, you’ll find that the process is far easier to navigate when you are well-informed from the get-go. Knowing the various processes, criteria for filing and other details can make a world of difference in this stressful process. This informative guide will help you learn the ground rules so let’s jump in.

The Massachusetts Divorce Process: How to File For Divorce in MA

To divorce in Massachusetts, you and your spouse must have lived in the state for one year. Alternatively, the reason for the marriage’s end may have happened in MA while you and your spouse lived in the state as a couple.

Massachusetts divorces may be “fault” or “no fault” and both types may be contested or uncontested.

In a contested divorce, one person disagrees with the terms of the proposed settlement. In an uncontested divorce, both parties are in agreement.

What Are The Grounds for Divorce In MA?

In addition to the “no fault” or “Irretrievable Breakdown” of a marriage, there are seven grounds for divorce in Massachusetts.

Three Ways To File For Divorce in MA

There are three ways to file for divorce in Massachusetts. Before beginning the process, parties should be aware that the process of filing a fault divorce is typically more expensive and more time-consuming than the process of filing a no-fault (1A or 1B) divorce. As elsewhere, MA contested divorces tend to take longer than uncontested divorces.

No Fault 1A Divorce Proceedings

Filing for a no-fault 1A divorce is simplest.

After the filing process and any other required procedures are complete, a hearing date will be set. Both spouses must attend unless the court grants an attendance waiver. The judge will determine whether an irretrievable breakdown has indeed occurred, and will then accept the separation agreement. A 30-day period separates the date that the judge accepts the divorce and the date that the “divorce judgment nisi” is entered. The divorce judgment nisi is a 90-day period that ensures both parties were truthful in revealing details of their finances and property, as well as a chance for parties to change their minds about divorcing. So long as nothing changes, the divorce is final 90 days from the date of the divorce judgment nisi, or 120 days from the date of the judge’s approval of the separation agreement.

No Fault 1B Divorce Proceedings

To file a Massachusetts no-fault 1B divorce, spouses must take the following steps:

After the defendant files his or her answer, both parties must exchange financial statements and compose a separation agreement. Because parties may not be able to agree on issues surrounding the case, a mediator may be used; additionally. Parties may have their lawyers act on their behalf.

When contested issues persist, a pre-trial hearing will take place. Both parties must have their lawyers submit pre-trial memorandums in accordance with guidelines laid out in MA divorce laws. Parties will also need to determine whether they plan to call any witnesses during the trial itself.

If parties are able to reach an agreement, then the following should be filed:

A six-month waiting period will separate the date of filing these documents and the hearing unless parties are able to obtain a waiver from the court.

If parties are not able to reach an agreement, a trial will take place. The judge will take all issues into account and deliver a final decision. Once he or she enters the judgment, a 90-day waiting period goes into effect, after which the divorce is final.

MA Fault Divorce Proceedings

When a filing a fault divorce in MA, the person who is asking for the divorce (complainant) must provide the court with proof of the grounds for divorce.

Contested issues often arise in fault divorce cases. When this happens, arrangements will be made for a pre-trial hearing. The parties or their lawyers must file pre-trial memorandums and decide if any witnesses will be called.

If parties are able to reach an agreement, then the following should be filed:

A six-month waiting period will separate the date of filing these documents and the hearing unless parties are able to obtain a waiver from the court.

If parties are not able to reach an agreement, a trial will take place, and the complainant will have the opportunity to prove his or her case. The judge will take all evidence and other issues into account and deliver a final decision. Once he or she enters the judgment, a 90-day waiting period goes into effect, after which the divorce is final.

How Long Does A Divorce Take in MA?

The simplest divorce, an uncontested, no-fault or 1A divorce, is final 120 days from the date of the judge’s approval of the separation agreement. Because contested and fault divorces typically go to trial, they take longer. In some of the most complicated cases, MA divorce proceedings can take more than a year to come to a conclusion.

What Is The Cost of Divorce in MA?

While the total cost of divorce may be in the thousands, the cost to file a Massachusetts divorce is $200. The court may assign additional costs and surcharges.

Massachusetts Divorce Statistics

United States divorce rates average 40 to 50 percent in any given year. Massachusetts divorce statistics are similar to nationwide stats; approximately 47 percent of the state’s marriages end in divorce. This has risen dramatically since 1960 when the state enjoyed a low divorce rate of just 17 percent.

Divorce Lawyers In Massachusetts

Although you can choose to represent yourself in your divorce, divorce professionals recommend that you secure legal counsel before getting divorced in Massachusetts. Marriage dissolution is often a complicated process, and you want to have the best legal counsel possible to advocate for your best interests. Without a skilled lawyer, you are apt to make mistakes or miss pertinent details, potentially resulting in your divorce taking longer to complete and costing you far more in legal fees and unaddressed issues.

Insights From Jumping In: Dating After Divorce in 2019

In 2019, Worthy conducted a study on how divorce women approach divorce and dating in today’s world.

Age of Today’s Divorced Woman
Of the women we surveyed, 42% divorced between the ages of 35-44 and 28% between 45-54, indicating that midlife is the most common time for marriages to break up. Only 9% divorced after the age of 55 and the younger women, 34 and under, made up 22%.

Divorce Proceedings in the 21st Century
We asked our participants to share what legal processes they were familiar with for divorce. Litigation (53%) and mediation (48%) were at the top of the list but many were also familiar with alternative routes such as low-conflict collaborative divorce (25%). Services like working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst are much less well-known (5%).

Divorce Finances 101
When it came to the big issues, the majority of women felt sufficiently informed to make decisions. This included issues like health insurance (60%) and the marital house (56%). However, when it came to issues outside of the immediate household, such as taxes, the participants felt less informed.Reusable Block

Dating After Divorce
Dating is at the forefront of many divorcees’ minds. 78% of the women have already started thinking about dating by the time the divorce papers are signed. 40% of women feel confident about dating after divorce, 68% feel excited and hopeful. 59% of divorced women meet dates on online dating websites or apps.

Getting Divorced The Better Way

Getting divorced in New York doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive anymore. Our friends at It’s Over Easy provide a smart and easy way to get an uncontested divorce online. Founded by celebrity divorce lawyer Laura A. Wasser, It’s Over Easy is the only online divorce solution that guides you through every aspect of your case.

“After practicing Family Law for over 20 years I came to realize that people deserve a better way to get divorced. I founded It’s Over Easy to give people a high-quality, less expensive & more amicable option. Our platform takes the user through the entire dissolution process. We provide information and support along the way through our content on our Insights Blog, the Divorce Sucks! Podcast and The Index, our curated professional and lifestyle resource guide. Divorce is difficult but the legal part shouldn’t have to be.” 
–Laura A. Wasser

Checklist of Resources You May Need When Divorcing in MA

Sometimes it takes a village to navigate the divorce process. Thankfully, there exist trained professionals who can guide you through it safely and efficiently. If you are looking to build your dream divorce team or add to it, we have compiled a list of our favorite experts from which you can pick and choose according to your needs. Your Massachusetts divorce team may include any combination of the following individuals or websites:

Focus Area OrganizationWebsite

National Association of
Divorce Professionals


Certified Divorced


Association of
Financial Planners



How Worthy Can Help

Financing divorce is an expensive proposition. So, too, is rebuilding your life post-divorce. Worthy has already helped thousands of women meet their financial goals by providing the safest and most effective means possible to sell their diamond jewelry at the highest price possible in the marketplace. Why let valuable assets like your diamond engagement ring sit idle when you can put the funds from its sale to work and create a brighter future for yourself? Worthy is here when you are ready, supporting you with vital information about divorce, including personal accounts from those who have survived and thrived afterward, and, of course, bringing you with the most trusted online auction platform in the industry.

Divorce process guide for main US states

Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice on any subject matter. Consult with an attorney for more information regarding your individual situation.

Worthy Staff

Worthy Staff

The Worthy Blog is a place for inspiration, insight, and advice for all things surrounding life's greatest transitions - divorce, losing a loved one, retirement, and so much more. You can find us on our blog, Instagram, and Facebook.


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