Probate and Family Court locations
What you need
You can file for divorce in Massachusetts if you have lived in the state for one year, or if the reason the marriage ended happened in Massachusetts and you have lived in Massachusetts as a couple.
In addition to the required court forms, you need a certified copy of your civil marriage certificate. This is available from the Registry of Vital Records or from the city or town hall where you applied for a marriage license.
Forms and fees can be filed in person or sent by mail to the court.
The forms you need are listed under "Downloads" below.
To begin, you need to file:
- Certified copy of your marriage certificate, which you got from the Registry of Vital Records or your city or town.
- Complaint for divorce under section 1B (CJD-101B) signed by one party.
- Record of Absolute Divorce (R-408) for the Registry of Vital Records.
Bring these to the registry office at the Probate and Family Court along with your fees.
The court will give you a summons. The complaint for divorce and summons are served on the other spouse. See service of process of domestic relations complaints.
If you don't have children under 18, the only remaining paperwork to file is your financial statements. Both spouses must complete and file financial statements with the court.
If you have children under 18
- You and your spouse will need to attend a parent education program unless it's waived by the court. You'll receive a certificate after attending a Parent Education Program.
- Prepare the following forms:
- Affidavit of Care and Custody (OCAJ-1)
- Child support guidelines worksheet (CJD-304)
- Financial statements (CJD-301)
File those forms along with your Parent Education Certificate at the clerk's office.
Some people may also need to file
- Affidavit of Indigency if you can't afford the fees. See Indigency for more information.
- Findings and Determinations for Child Support (CJD-305) if you don’t think the child support guidelines should apply to your case.
- Motion to Waive Attendance at Parent Education Program (CJD-444) if you cannot attend a parent education program.
- Motion for Temporary Orders (i.e. child custody, child support, spousal support, etc.) (CJD-400) if you need a court order until your divorce hearing. Fill in what you want the court to order. With this, you also need an Affidavit, where you explain what happened and when to the judge, and a Proposed Order form. Write exactly what you want the court to order on this form.
|Divorce filing fee||$200||each|
|Divorce filing surcharge||$15||each|
|Divorce summons charge||$5||each|
How to file
If you or your spouse lives in the county where you lived together, you file for divorce at the Probate and Family Court in that county. Otherwise, you can file in the county where you or your spouse live now. Find the Probate and Family Court for your county.
If you or your spouse lives in the county where you lived together, you file for divorce at the Probate and Family Court in that county. Otherwise, you can file in the county where you or your spouse live now. Find the address of the probate and Family Court for your county.
Once the other spouse (the defendant) has filed an answer, the 2 people will need to exchange financial statements and write up a separation agreement. See Respond to a case filed against you in Probate and Family Court for more information.
There may be a pre-trial hearing if the parties have contested issues. In preparation for a pre-trial hearing, the parties or their attorneys will submit a pre-trial memorandum. This would follow discovery, which is the process of finding out information from the other party by submitting questions, called interrogatories, to the other party or by requesting certain documents.
You must also decide if you're going to call any witnesses for the trial.
To proceed without a trial (meaning all of the issues have been agreed upon and are uncontested), you need to have the notarized, signed separation agreement, financial statements, and parent education certificate (if applicable) filed with the court. A hearing can't be scheduled before 6 months from the date of filing unless the court has granted a waiver.
The judge either accepts, rejects, or amends the separation agreement at the hearing. If the parties haven't reached an agreement on all of the issues, there will be a trial and the judge will make the final decision.
When a judgment is entered, it becomes final 90 days later.