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Get a no-fault 1A divorce

You can file for a 1A divorce when both spouses agree that their marriage has irretrievably broken down and they have reached a written agreement about child support, parenting time, alimony, child custody, and dividing marital assets.

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What you need for Get a no-fault 1A divorce

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 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.

The forms you’ll need are listed under “File your papers” below.

First steps

First, you'll need to write a separation agreement, and both spouses must sign it and have it notarized. A separation agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse. It spells out how you’re going to divide your property, child custody, child support, spousal support, visitation, and any other issues relevant to your divorce.

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 called a separation agreement that “survives” the divorce). Sometimes it's not a separate contract, but until the judge approves it, it becomes part of the divorce judgment (this is called a separation agreement that has “merged” with the divorce judgment.) It's important that you make the choice that's right for you. It will be helpful to speak to a lawyer about the choices you make. If you aren't able to consult with a lawyer, the law libraries and public libraries have examples of separation agreements.

File your papers

To begin, you need to file:

  1. Certified copy of your marriage certificate, which you can get from the Registry of Vital Records or your city or town.
  2. Separation agreement (you should have already prepared this).
  3. Joint Petition for Divorce form (CJD-101A) signed by both parties or their lawyers.
  4. Affidavit of irretrievable breakdown signed by the parties.
  5. Record of Absolute Divorce(R-408) from the Registry of Vital Records.

Bring these to the Registry office at the Probate and Family Court along with your fees.

You also need to file a financial statement. Both spouses must complete and file financial statements with the court. 

If you have children under 18

Couples with children must also do the following:

  1. Both of you are required to attend a parent education program unless it's waived by the court. You'll receive a certificate after attending.
  2. Prepare the following forms:

File those forms along with your Parent Education Certificate at the clerk's office.

Special circumstances

Some people may also need to file:

Fees for Get a no-fault 1A divorce

Name Fee Unit
Divorce filing fee $200 each
Divorce filing surcharge $15 each
Divorce summons charge $5 each

How to get Get a no-fault 1A divorce

If you or your spouse lives in the county where you lived together, 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.

You can pay your fees with a check (bank check preferred, as some courts don't allow personal checks), money order, cash, or a credit card. If both parties are indigent, you can file for indigency (waiver of court fees).

To file by mail, complete the required forms listed above and mail them along with the necessary fees to the appropriate Probate & Family Court. You can pay your fees with a check or money order (bank check preferred, as some courts don't allow personal checks). If both parties are indigent, you may also file an Affidavit of Indigency.

If you or your spouse lives in the county where you lived together, you should send the forms and fees to the Probate and Family Court in that county. Otherwise, you can file in the county where you or your spouse live now. 

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Dividing your property

If you file an uncontested divorce, then you and your spouse decide how to split things up when you write your separation agreement, and the court will review the separation agreement and make sure it’s fair. If you can’t decide together how to divide your things, then the court will use a standard called “equitable division.” This doesn’t mean that your things have to be divided exactly in half, but it does mean that the decision has to be fair.

The hearing and nisi

The hearing date will be set by the court after all paperwork has been filed. Both spouses must attend 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.

Once the judge has determined that there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and accepts the separation agreement, an order is entered. A judgment nisi is entered automatically 30 days later.

A "divorce judgment nisi" is the time between when a judge grants your divorce and when the divorce becomes final. It gives both people a chance to change their minds and 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 doesn't become final until 90 days from the date it was entered. You can't remarry until 120 days from the date of entry of the order approving the separation agreement.

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