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How long do you need to live in Massachusetts before a divorce?

Most states have a waiting period before you can file for divorce, forcing you to live within the state for a substantial amount of time. You generally cannot just drive to another state and file for divorce if you prefer their divorce laws, for instance. You have to establish yourself as someone who truly lives there, regardless of where you got married. 

If you recently moved to Massachusetts and now you’re thinking of ending your marriage, you are likely wondering what this timeline looks like. There are two main things to consider. 

The one-year rule

First and foremost, if you’re filing for a no-fault divorce, you need to have lived in the state for at least a year. This is a fairly standard practice in most states, though some of them have shorter timeframes. Massachusetts makes you wait 12 months, so you don’t even have the option to file until you meet that, even when you and your spouse agree that the marriage should end. 

The reason for the split

The law also permits you to file for divorce if you have a specific reason. The stipulation is that the reason itself (such as an affair) must have happened within the state. You and your spouse must also have lived in the state as a couple, though there is no duration listed. Essentially, if you have grounds for a divorce and want to split up quickly, you may be able to do so faster than if you’re using a no-fault divorce — but that’s only if your spouse doesn’t contest it.

What steps do you need to take?

It’s important to get the details rights, so be sure you know what legal steps to take moving forward so that your divorce gets off on the right footing.