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Are there different types of divorce in Massachusetts?

There are several different types of divorce Massachusetts couples can file for when they decide to end their marriage.

Divorce is a legal action officially decreed by a court that dissolves a valid marriage and gives the parties the freedom to remarry. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce, a child custody plan and child support order may be put into place; assets may be divided; and an order for spousal support may be made. Before moving forward with the divorce process, couples should be aware of the different types of divorce available to them in Massachusetts.

Contested vs. uncontested

When one person disagrees with the decision to divorce or the terms of the divorce, the other spouse can file a contested divorce. When both parties agree that divorce is the best course of action, and they agree about divorce-related issues, the divorce is uncontested.

No-fault divorce

When neither spouse blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage, a no-fault divorce occurs. In Massachusetts, this is referred to as an "Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage."

There are also two kinds of no-fault divorces in the state and they are often referred to as 1A and 1B.

Spouses may file a 1A divorce when each party agrees the marriage has broken down and a written agreement has been drafted that covers parenting time, child custody, alimony, child support and the division of marital assets. When this occurs, the divorce is known as an uncontested no-fault divorce.

A spouse may file a 1B divorce, when he or she wants to get divorced, and does not blame the other for the breakdown, but they disagree about child custody, a parenting plan, child support or other issues. These types of divorces are known as contested no-fault divorces.

Fault divorce

When a fault divorce is filed, the spouse who wants the divorce must provide a specific reason for the divorce. The following are the permissible grounds for obtaining Sa fault divorce:

  • Impotency
  • Adultery
  • Desertion for one year
  • Cruel and abusive treatment
  • Gross and confirmed intoxication caused by drugs or alcohol
  • A prison sentence that will last five or more years

In many cases, filing for a fault divorce can be more time-consuming than filing a no-fault divorce.

Reach out to an attorney

Many people in Massachusetts may want to file for divorce, but remain unsure of whether they should file a contested or uncontested no-fault divorce or a fault divorce. For this reason, a person considering divorce should contact an attorney who can provide guidance regarding this important decision.

Linda Sternberg, Esquire
10 Tremont Street, Suite 200
Boston, MA 02108


Telephone: 617-454-4705
Fax: 617-722-8350


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