Get a no-fault 1B divorce

You should file for a 1B divorce when:
• Only one spouse believes the marriage has ended; OR
• Both spouses believe the marriage has ended, but don't agree on how to handle issues such as:
-Child support
-Parenting time
-Alimony
-Child custody
-Dividing shared property (marital assets)

A 1B divorce is a contested no-fault divorce. Follow the steps below to get a 1B 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: Fill out your paperwork

For everyone

Anyone filing for a 1B divorce needs to file:

If you have children under 18

Couples with children under 18 must also:

  1. Fill out these forms:

File out these forms at the clerk's office.

Special circumstances

Some people may also need to file:

Step 3: File your paperwork and fees

Fees

You'll need to pay the following fees for a 1B 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
Divorce summons charge $5

How to file

You can file for a 1B 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.

Step 4: Serve the papers on your spouse

After you file your paperwork, the court will mail you a summons. You must serve the complaint for divorce and summons on the other spouse. Please see service of process of domestic relations complaints for more information.

Key Actions for Step 4: Serve the papers on your spouse

Step 5: Attend the mandatory co-parenting education program

All parents where there is no agreement on custody and/or parenting time of their minor children must attend the four-hour online co-parenting course “Two Families Now” unless a Judge waives the requirement.

 Parent Education: Notice to Parents for Mandatory Co-Parenting Education Course

If you think you should not be required to attend the parent education course you can file Motion to Waive Attendance at Two Families Now Co-Parenting Education Course and provide notice to the other side by sending them a copy.

Key Actions for Step 5: Attend the mandatory co-parenting education program

Step 6: Exchange financial statements & write up a separation agreement

After you serve your spouse, they will likely file an answer. See respond to a case filed against you in Probate and Family Court for more information on that process.

It is possible to change the type of divorce you are filing from no-fault to fault. If you want to change the type of divorce, you must do so before your spouse files an answer. There are two ways to change the divorce type:

After your spouse files an answer, you must exchange financial statements. You will also write a separation agreement on how you will handle any issues related to your divorce. It’s helpful to speak to a lawyer about the choices you make. If you aren't able to talk with a lawyer, the law libraries and public libraries have examples of separation agreements.

Key Actions for Step 6: Exchange financial statements & write up a separation agreement

Additional Resources for Step 6: Exchange financial statements & write up a separation agreement

Step 7: Attend a pre-trial hearing

There may be a pre-trial hearing scheduled by the court if you and your spouse have issues you can’t agree on. You will receive a notice in the mail about the hearing.

Both spouses or their lawyers must submit a pre-trial memorandum to prepare. Before the pre-trial, you may want to take part in discovery. Discovery is your opportunity to find out information from the other party. You may request documents from the other party and submit questions (called interrogatories). You must also decide if you're going to call any witnesses for the trial.

If you and your spouse have a signed and notarized separation agreement on all the issues, you do not need a trial. You must have your separation agreement and financial statements filed with the court.

Step 8: Attend a hearing

The divorce becomes final 90 days after the judgment date.

Unless the court grants a waiver, a hearing can't take place any sooner than 6 months from the filing date. You will receive a notice in the mail with information on your scheduled hearing.

The judge will either accept, reject, or amend the separation agreement at the hearing. If the parties do not agree on all the issues, there will be a trial and the judge will make the final decision. When a judgment enters, the divorce becomes final 90 days later, after the nisi period has ended. Please see Finalizing a divorce for more information.

Key Actions for Step 8: Attend a hearing

Additional Resources for Step 8: Attend a hearing

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