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How to File for Divorce in Massachusetts

People holding divorce paperwork before an attorney after learning how to file for divorce in Massachusetts.

See five helpful steps for how to file for divorce in Massachusetts.

How to file for divorce in Massachusetts can feel overwhelming, so we are here to share an attorney’s expert advice:

First, in Massachusetts, in order to file a Complaint for Divorce, you must have lived in the state for one (1) year and/or you last lived to together in Massachusetts. Generally, the reason for the divorce is an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage that occurred on a certain date. So long as you have jurisdiction, you may proceed to file paperwork with the Court.

Here are those steps to filing an uncontested (1A) or contested (1B) divorce in the state of Mass.

Step 1: You must determine what county to file your paperwork. There is a Probate and Family Court in each county in Massachusetts. For example, if you and your spouse reside in Wellesley, you would file in the Norfolk Probate and Family Court. If you and your spouse are living separate and apart at the time of filing, then you would file in the country where you last resided together.

In Massachusetts, a Contested Divorce is called a 1B Divorce. An Uncontested Divorce, also known as a “1A Divorce” is where both parties agree that their marriage is over and the parties have reached an agreement on all issues including but not limited to support, health insurance, custody, parenting, other child related issues/costs, division of assets, liabilities, taxes and life insurance. Your agreement on these issues must be in writing and contained in a Separation Agreement drafted by your Attorney.

To file an Uncontested Divorce, follow these next steps:
Step 2: Obtain your certified marriage certificate. If you do not have your original, you can obtain another original from the city or town in which you were married. You will also need to fill out form R-408, Record of Absolute Divorce from the Registry of Vital Records. You will need to submit a Joint Petition for Divorce, Form CJD-101A, which needs to be executed by both parties and/or respective attorneys and a Joint Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown which you and your spouse will also execute. Each party will also need to complete a financial statement disclosing all income, assets, expenses and liabilities. If you earn $75,000 or less, you will complete a short form; if you earn more than $75,000, you will be required to complete a long form financial statement.

Step 3: If you have minor children under 18 years of age, you will also need to file an Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody, Form OCAJ-1 TRC IV, and a Child Support Guidelines worksheet, CJD-304.

Filing for either type of divorce:
Step 4: For a 1A Divorce, the filing fee is $215. For a 1B Divorce, the filing fee is $220.00 because you will need a summons which costs an extra $5.00. If you are filing a 1B Divorce, you will also incur the cost of a Constable to serve your spouse with the Complaint for Divorce (cost of the Constable varies). Once your spouse is served, the Constable will send you back the summons to show proof of service. This summons must be filed with the Court.

Step 5: You can file for a 1A or a 1B Divorce in person, by mail or on-line. If you were unable to reach a written
agreement with your spouse, instead of filing a Joint Petition, you will file a Complaint for Divorce, Form CJD-101 instead.

Divorce Squad is here to guide you through these steps. Looking for support on your Massachusetts Divorce? Contact one of our attorneys today and learn what else you need to know for how to file for divorce in Massachusetts and help you navigate the entire process.