Get a no-fault 1A divorce

You should file for a 1A divorce when both spouses agree the marriage has irretrievably broken down and can't continue. To file a 1A divorce, both spouses must have a written agreement about:

• Child support
• Parenting time
• Alimony
• Child custody
• Dividing shared property (marital assets)

Follow the steps below to get a 1A divorce in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Find out if you can get divorced in Massachusetts

You can file for divorce in Massachusetts if:

  • You've lived in the state for 1 year, or;
  • The reason the marriage ended happened in Massachusetts and you've lived in the state as a couple

Additional Resources for Step 1: Find out if you can get divorced in Massachusetts

Step 2: Write a separation agreement

You will need to write a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse. It explains how you will handle any issues related to your divorce. These issues may include:

  • Child support
  • Parenting time
  • Alimony
  • Child custody
  • Dividing shared property (marital assets)

Both parties must sign the agreement and it must be notarized (signed by a notary).

There are different ways to reach an agreement. You can negotiate on your own or hire lawyers to help you. You may also decide to use a divorce mediator to help settle the issues.

A separation agreement can be a binding contract between you and your spouse. This is a separation agreement that “survives” the divorce. Sometimes, it is not a separate contract and is not binding until the judge approves it. If the judge approves the agreement, it becomes part of the divorce judgment. This is a separation agreement that has “merged” with the divorce judgment.

It's important that you make the choice that's right for you. It’s helpful to speak to a lawyer about the choices you make. If you are not able to speak to a lawyer, you can find examples of separation agreements at the law libraries and public libraries.

Key Actions for Step 2: Write a separation agreement

Step 3: Fill out your paperwork

For everyone

Anyone filing for a 1A divorce needs to file:

If you have children under 18

Couples with children under 18 must also:

  1. Fill out these forms:

File these forms at the clerk's office.

Special circumstances

Some people may also need to file:

Step 4: File your paperwork and fees

Fees

You'll need to pay the following fees for a 1A divorce. There are different ways you can pay your fees. You can pay with a bank check or money order made out to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, cash, or a credit card.

Name Fee
Divorce filing fee $200
Divorce filing surcharge $15

How to file

You can file for a 1A divorce in person, by mail online at eFileMA. For more information on how to eFile, please see eFiling in the Probate and Family Court.

Make sure you file the required forms and fees with the Probate and Family Court in the correct county. You should file in the county where you and your spouse lived together if one or both of you still live there. Otherwise, file in the county where you or your spouse live now. Find your Probate and Family Court.

If both parties are indigent, you can file for indigency (waiver of court fees).

Step 5: Attend a hearing

The divorce becomes final 120 days after the judgment date.

After you file all the paperwork, the court will set a hearing date and send you notice in the mail. Both spouses must go to the hearing unless the court has accepted an attendance waiver for one spouse. A spouse would have to file a motion requesting a waiver of attendance before the hearing for this. The judge may ask questions about the affidavit or separation agreement.

At the hearing, the judge will determine that your marriage has broken down and can’t continue. Then, the judge will decide if the separation agreement covers all the issues and is fair to both people. If so, the judge will accept the separation agreement, and an order will enter. A judgment nisi enters automatically 30 days later. 90 days after the judgment date, the divorce becomes final.

Judgment nisi

A "judgment nisi" is the time between when a judge grants your divorce and when the divorce becomes final. During this time, both people have a chance to change their minds. They can make sure that the other person didn’t lie about their property before the divorce is final. You don’t need to do anything during this time, and your divorce will become final automatically. 

The judgment nisi becomes final 90 days from the date it entered. You can't remarry until 120 days from the entry date of the order approving the divorce.

Key Actions for Step 5: Attend a hearing

Additional Resources for Step 5: Attend a hearing

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