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DO IT YOURSELF ONLINE DIVORCE IN MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts offers a simplified divorce routine, by which the couples file as co-petitioners on ground that the marriage has faltered irretrievably but without either partner being at fault.

Grounds for Divorce in Massachusetts

Grounds for divorce in Massachusetts include no-fault, which mean an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, or fault, which includes adultery, impotency, desertion for one year, drunkenness and drug use, and cruel and abusive treatment.

Residency Requirements for Massachusetts Divorce

One of the spouses must live in Massachusetts if the grounds happened there. If the grounds for divorce happened elsewhere, one spouse must reside in the state for at least a year. If either party still resides in the county where the couple last lived together, the action is filed in the probate court of that county. If one of these requirements is not met, it typically means another court has proper jurisdiction over the divorce case.

Massachusetts Divorce and Filing Process

In a joint petition (1A divorce), the couple asserts an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which means they cannot resolve their marital problems but neither spouse is to blame. Both spouses are the petitioners and are listed as petitioner A and petitioner B. A 1B divorce is also a no-fault divorce. The spouse who initiates the 1B divorce Petition is the plaintiff; the other spouse is the defendant.

Massachusetts online divorce process Both require a date when the marriage became irretrievably broken -- that is, when either spouse moved out or when one realized the marriage failed. This date is often an approximate date, as it can be difficult to put an exact date on when a marriage actually failed.

Also filed with the Petition are a completed Certification of Vital Statistics, and a certified copy of the Marriage Certificate.

There is no service on a 1A divorce because both spouses have signed the Petition. For a 1B divorce, the court clerk returns a copy of the Petition with a Summons. The plaintiff spouse then serves the Petition copy and the summons on the defendant spouse. The plaintiff mails the Summons to the court to show how the defendant was served. The plaintiff should keep copies of everything returned by mail.

Each spouse prepares a financial statement and exchanges it with the other. A party uses the short form if he or she earns less than $75,000. Otherwise, a long form must be completed. The parties should have an up-to-date financial statement prepared whenever they have a hearing. Here is more information regarding the process of filing uncontested divorce papers in Massachusetts.

A spouse who receives a Petition for Divorce in Massachusetts should file an appearance to show that he or she wants a voice in the case. He or she can also file a response, which is called an Answer, if the Petition contains incorrect statements or he or she want to ask for a result different that what the plaintiff requested. A defendant who wants to contest files a counterclaim to list different reasons for the divorce and pays a filing fee for the counterclaim.

Generally, after the couple signs a separate agreement, it takes two to six weeks after a court hearing. The divorce becomes final either three or four months after the court date. A contested divorce that goes to trial, however, takes as long as two years or more. Learn the best ways to save money when doing your own divorce in Massachusetts.

Do It Yourself Online Divorce in Massachusetts

Our online software makes it easy to file your own divorce in Massachusetts. In as little as 20 minutes you can have all your completed divorce forms and filing instructions ready for signing and filing. Instantly access your completed divorce forms after a short online interview. It is that easy, no lengthy completion or delivery times. See if you qualify below:

Massachusetts Property Division

The court accepts any fair and reasonable property division that the spouses agree upon through a written settlement agreement or clearly stated facts within the final Decree.

Massachusetts is an equitable division, all property ("kitchen sink") state. The courts have jurisdiction over all the property that both spouses have, marital and separate. Massachusetts recognizes prenuptial agreements, which set out the terms and conditions of a property settlement when the marriage fails. The courts uphold and divide property as the prenup dictates, even when the division is at variance from the state laws as long as the couple executed the agreement properly.

In dividing property, the court classifies assets and liabilities as marital or separate, then places a value on assets and debts, and then makes an assignment. In dividing property, the court considers the length of the marriage; the conduct of the parties during the marriage; the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability; estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties, and "the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income."

Before the court can divide the marital property, it distinguishes it from any separate property owned independently. Generally, separate property is property owned before marriage. Under some circumstances, it also includes property acquired during marriage, like a gift, an inheritance, or a personal-injury award.

Property acquired from the date of the marriage through the date of separation is marital property and subject to distribution. Property each spouse owned before the marriage or acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance is separate.

As in other jurisdictions, divorcing couples normally sell the marital home and divide the profits, or sell the home to one party and refinance, or the custodial parent occupies the house until the last child leaves school and then sell it.

Retirement benefits are marital property when the worker meets all the requirements for payout. This is called vested. They are either Defined Contribution Plans (DC), such as a 401(k), or Defined Benefit Plans (DB), which is the company pension. That part of a pension accumulated during a marriage is community property and subject to distribution. When spouses share in each other's pension plan, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be prepared. The QDRO spells out the terms and conditions of the pension distribution.

Once handed down, a Massachusetts property division order cannot be modified unless there are "exceptional and compelling" circumstances for the sake of "fairness and justice."

Alimony and Spousal Support in Massachusetts

In determining alimony, the judge considers the financial position of each spouse, particularly the age, employment, other assets offered to the requesting spouse in the divorce, whether or not that spouse supports children as the custodial parent, the length of the marriage and the behavior of each spouse during the marriage.

Alimony varies from case to case. In Massachusetts, courts may order temporary alimony, (alimony pendente lite), granted during the divorce proceedings granted at the discretion of the court during the divorce proceedings before the final decree; short-term alimony rehabilitative, granted to allow the receiving party time to gain necessary skills; and long-term alimony, usually reserved for lengthy marriages.

In Massachusetts, health coverage available at a reasonable cost may be extended to cover the alimony recipient because a divorcing spouse must cover the former spouse if he or she can do so.

Child Custody in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, in determining which parent or parents have physical or legal custody, courts adhere to the best interest of the child standard. Unlike most states, Massachusetts does not presume that joint physical or legal custody is in the best interest of the child. In Massachusetts, when one parent has legal custody, he or she has sole legal custody. If a parent has physical custody, he or she has sole physical custody. When both parents have legal custody, they have joint legal custody. If both parents share physical custody, they have joint physical custody.

When parents disagree about custody, the court decides custody of the child.

Sometimes a third party, such as grandparents, may be awarded custody when the court determines that both parents are detrimental to the best interests of the child. If the court determines that the biological parents are detrimental, they may be granted supervised visitation.

Courts enjoy wide latitude in determining visitation. The court may order supervised visitation when the court has reservations about the child's safety with one parent alone.

Child Support in Massachusetts

Child Support Guidelines are provided in the Massachusetts Court Rules and promulgated by the Supreme Judicial Court. The Massachusetts guidelines are a hybrid form of the Percentage of Income model and Income Shares Model. Support is calculated on the gross income of the non-custodial parent, but then offset by a percentage of income of the custodial parent over a certain amount. Support for education of the child is through age 21.

Sometimes, after calculating support, courts permit adjustments up or down that are called deviation factors. Courts may consider extraordinary expenses, independent income, seasonal fluctuation in parents' income, special needs as well "any other reason that should be considered to make child support more equitable." Likewise, extraordinary expenses can be either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment paid by the noncustodial parent, or a deduction, where it is subtracted.

Extraordinary expenses can be either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment paid by the noncustodial parent, or a deduction, where it is subtracted.

A parent may be ordered to include a child on medical insurance, particularly when the visiting parent receives health insurance.

Courts order temporary child support during custody and support actions, and either parent may be order to pay.

Massachusetts Service of Process for Divorce

The divorce papers, the summons and the Petition, are served together.

Service upon a defendant means delivering the divorce papers to him or her personally, or by leaving copies at his or her last residence and usual place of abode, or by delivering the divorce papers to an agent authorized by appointment or by statute to receive service of process.

Personal service outside of Massachusetts may be effected by delivering the divorce papers in a manner appropriate for personal service within the Commonwealth.

If a person does not know where his or her spouse lives, the plaintiff must file a motion for alternate service and then, with court approval, publish a legal notice of the impending action once a week for three weeks notice.

A Simple Divorce Process
Step 1 See if you qualify & create account!
Step 2 Answer the questions at your own pace.
Step 3 Print, sign and file your divorce forms with your local court (instantly review & print your forms online or have them sent US Priority Mail at no additional charge).

START HERE

Only $299 (flat-fee)

or 2 monthly payments of $157
or 3 monthly payments of $109
or 4 monthly payments of $84
Payment Options Do Not Delay Divorce
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