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Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

How is divorce categorized in Massachusetts?

While the end of a marriage is something that happens quite frequently in Massachusetts, many people are unaware of the difference between fault and no-fault divorce. Nor are they aware of the specifics of contested and uncontested divorce. Before moving forward with the process, it is important for the spouses to have a grasp on the different aspects and factors in a divorce. With a contested divorce, one of the spouses is disagreeing with the decision on the part of the other spouse to the divorce or its terms. With an uncontested divorce, both spouses are in agreement about the filing.

With fault divorces, there are seven reasons or grounds for the process. Simply put, the term fault means that one of the spouses is deemed responsible for the end of the marriage. The other kind of divorce is a no-fault divorce. The majority of divorces are of the no-fault variety. With a no-fault divorce, there is no one specifically blamed for the marriage ending. Technically, the no-fault divorce is referred to as the "irretrievable breakdown of marriage." Under the law, they are categorized as 1A and 1B.

For 1A, both spouses have agreed that the marriage is irretrievably broken and they have come to terms on all matters including child support, child custody, alimony and how marital assets will be divided. This is known as an uncontested no-fault divorce. With 1B, either one or both spouses can believe that the marriage is irretrievably broken down, but they cannot agree on child custody, child support and other issues. This is known as a contested no-fault divorce. When the spouses cannot agree, it is possible to alter a divorce from 1B to 1A.

With a fault divorce, there must be grounds for its filing. They are non-support, impotence, a spouse being sentenced to five or more years incarceration, adultery, continued intoxication, cruelty and abusive treatment, non-support, and desertion. This can be more costly and take more time than the no-fault process. Divorce can be a difficult process personally and technically. Those who are considering it or are already moving forward with it should speak to a legal professional with experience in the dissolution of marriage in the state.

Source: mass.gov, "Divorce," accessed on Nov. 26, 2015

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