Massachusetts law about divorce

A compilation of laws, cases, and web sources on Massachusetts divorce law by the Trial Court Law Libraries.

Table of Contents

Best bet

Family law advocacy for low and moderate income litigants, 3d ed., 2018. Mass. Legal Services.
The online version of the book includes checklists, sample agreements, forms, and so much more. Despite the title, those in all income brackets will find it useful. It's the best online source.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.208 Divorce

Court rules

Selected Massachusetts cases

Ansin v. Craven-Ansin , 457 Mass. 283 (2010)
Post-nuptial agreements may be enforced. "[T]he judge should determine at a minimum whether (1) each party has had an opportunity to obtain separate legal counsel of each party's own choosing; (2) there was fraud or coercion in obtaining the agreement; (3) all assets were fully disclosed by both parties before the agreement was executed; (4) each spouse knowingly and explicitly agreed in writing to waive the right to a judicial equitable division of assets and all marital rights in the event of a divorce; and (5) the terms of the agreement are fair and reasonable at the time of execution and at the time of divorce."

Ravasizadeh v. Niakosari, 94 Mass. App. Ct. 123 (2018)
Mahr. Discusses treatment of an Islamic marriage contract called a mahr (also translated as mehr, meher, mehrieh or mahriyeh), in Massachusetts court.

Rose v. Rose, 96 Mass. App. Ct. 557 (2019)
The 1-year residence requirement to get a divorce in Massachusetts means "an actual, continuous residence in the Commonwealth for twelve months immediately prior to filing for divorce."

Sbrogna v. Sbrogna, 92 Mass. App. Ct. 639 (2018)
Length of marriage.  Discusses the method to be used to determine the length of a marriage.

Shak v. Shak, 484 Mass. 658 (2020)
A "nondisparagement order" which forbid the couple from saying bad things about each other on social media was unconstitutional, because there was no proof that any harm to their child from the speech was either grave or certain. 

Forms

Court forms

Checklist for divorce separation agreements, Mass. Council on Family Mediation.
A list of the many items to consider when drafting your separation agreement.

Guide to Massachusetts divorce separation agreements, Wilkinson & Finkbeiner.
A comprehensive explanation of what can be included in  separation agreement including sample language.

General information

50 questions about divorce, Infinity Law Group.
Answers commonly asked questions about divorce in easy to understand language.

Divorce statistics, Divorce Magazine.
A large number of statistics about divorce in an easy-to-read format. Includes divorce rate by state, statistics about marriage and divorce and children of divorce.

FAQs about divorce, Alan Pransky.
This site includes everything you every wanted to know about divorce, alimony, child support and child custody, but were afraid to ask. It includes answers to questions like: What happens to debts in a divorce?, I'm separated: Can I date?, How are family pets handled?, When can I stop paying child support?, How is alimony decided? and much more.

Get a copy of your divorce record, Mass. Trial Court.

How do I file for divorce? Mass. Legal Help.
Outlines the forms necessary for both contested and uncontested divorces, how to get filing fees waived and what happens after the divorce is filed.

Learn about the types of divorce, Mass. Trial Court.
Explains the different kind of divorces available in Massachusetts.

The legal and financial aspects of divorce in Massachusetts, DivorceNet by Nolo. 
“Provides an overview of the legal and financial aspects of divorce in Massachusetts.”

Self-help: annulment, Mass. Trial Court.
Lists the grounds for an annulment, and explains why, in many cases, a divorce may be a simpler option

Separation and divorce, Mass. Legal Help, 2015.
This is a chapter of a book written for domestic violence survivors, but the information would be helpful to anyone just starting the divorce process. Covers the basics of where to file, costs, the timetable, and more, with links to forms.

Separation agreements

Checklist for divorce separation agreements, Mass. Council on Family Mediation.
A list of the many items to consider when drafting your separation agreement

Merger vs. survival of divorce agreements in Massachusetts, DivorceNet.
There are critical differences between a separation agreement that is "merged" and one that "survives" the divorce judgment. This article provides help in choosing the one that's right for you.

Financial statements and other financial issues

Supplemental Probate and Family Court rule 410: Mandatory Self Disclosure

Financial disclosure in Massachusetts divorce, DivorceNet.
Provides helpful advice as well as links to forms, rules, and information on other aspects of divorce

How to fill out a financial statement, Mass. Law Reform Institute.
Includes information on records to gather and what to include in your financial statement

Print sources

Complete QDRO handbook: dividing ERISA, military and civil service pensions and collecting child support from employee benefit plans, ABA, 2019.

Divorce after 50 : your guide to the unique legal & financial challenges of a gray divorce by Janice Green, Nolo, 2019.

Divorce & money : make the best financial decisions during divorce by Violet Woodhouse, Nolo, 2020.

Divorce without court : a guide to mediation & collaborative divorce by Katherine E. Stoner, Nolo, 2021.

Financial aspects of divorce in Massachusetts, 1st ed., MCLE, loose-leaf.

Harris, Susan. "Woof, woof, we're getting a divorce": pet custody and the law. v. 30 Issue 3 Massachusetts family law journal 30 (May/June 2012)

Massachusetts divorce law practice manual, 4th ed., MCLE, loose-leaf. 

Massachusetts domestic relations, 5th ed., LexisNexis, loose-leaf.

Military families and divorce, MCLE, 2011
Discusses the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, custody, family support, and pensions

Nolo's essential guide to divorce by Emily Doskow, Nolo, 2018.

Trying divorce cases in Massachusetts, 6th ed., MCLE, 2020.

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Last updated: September 23, 2022
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