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Massachusetts Divorce Self-Help Center

Many customer Massachusetts divorce questions are answered here.  Browse from the topics below or use the search box to narrow your search.
 
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General Information State Procedures   Custody, Visitation, Support
  Property and Debts   Special Circumstances Additional Resources
STATE PROCEDURES
How much is the filing fee in Massachusetts? 1942
The filing fee charged by the Court is NOT included in the DivorceWriter price. The fee for filing for divorce in Massachusetts varies from county to county, but is typically approximately $215.00-$220.00.
What are financial statements? 1997
Each spouse must file a financial statement. If either party has income over $75,000 per year, they must use a slightly longer form. DivorceWriter will provide you with the appropriate financial statement depending on the income information you provide in the online interview.
Will either of us be required to attend a court hearing? 2010
Under Massachusetts law, both spouses are required to attend the divorce hearing. If only the spouse who files for divorce is able to attend, it is possible for the non-filing spouse to file a notarized affidavit with the Clerk, which explains why he/she cannot attend. However, this generally is only allowed when a spouse is unable to attend because they live in another state and the cost of travel would be prohibitively expensive.

If your spouse is unable to attend the hearing due to excessive travel costs, select "no" to the applicable question on this page. Then, either select the reason from those provided or type in your own reason in the space provided. This information will be automatically transferred to an affidavit for your spouse to sign in front of a Notary Public.

Note: The court hearing is generally very brief and it is the preference of all judges that spouses attend the divorce hearing together if at all possible. Sample testimony will be included with your DivorceWriter package.
How do I serve my spouse with the divorce papers in Massachusetts? 1945
You and your spouse will be filing a Joint Petition for Divorce, which each of you will sign in front of a Notary Public. No other form of service is required.
What is considered to be the date of separation in Massachusetts? 647
The term "separation date" sometimes refers to the date when the spouses stopped living at... more
Where do I obtain a certified copy of my marriage certificate? 1998
In Massachusetts, you must file a certified copy of your marriage certificate along with your divorce papers. This cannot be a photocopy. You can usually obtain a certified copy from city hall or the county clerk's office in the place where you were married.
What documents are included in the self-prepared Massachusetts DivorceWriter package? 1943
Your self-prepared Massachusetts DivorceWriter package will include:
  • Massachusetts Divorce Filing Procedures
  • Joint Petition for Divorce
  • Separation Agreement
  • Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown
  • Military Affidavit
  • Financial Statement
  • Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Annulment
Customers with minor children will also receive the following:
  • Child Support Worksheet
  • Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody Proceedings
  • Public Assistance Affidavit
What are the basic steps to getting a no-fault divorce in Massachusetts? 1941
  1. Both spouses sign the Joint Petition for Divorce, Separation Agreement, and related documents before they are filed with the Court Clerk.
  2. Both spouses should receive a Notice of Uncontested Trial in the mail about 2-4 weeks after the divorce is filed. The Notice contains the date and time for the final hearing.
  3. The judge will enter a Judgment of Divorce 30 days after the hearing, which becomes final after 90 days after that.
What are the Massachusetts residency requirements for filing for divorce? 1934
If the breakdown of the marriage occurred in Massachusetts, then all that is required is that the spouse that files for divorce lives in Massachusetts. However, if the breakdown of the marriage happened in another state, then the spouse that files for divorce must have lived in Massachusetts for at least one year before filing.

If one or both spouses still live in the county where they last lived together, then that is the proper county for filing for divorce. However, if neither spouse lives in the county where the spouses last lived together, the divorce can be filed in the county where either spouse lives. For me information on filing in the proper county, see Massachusetts G.L. c. 208, §23.
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CUSTODY, VISITATION, SUPPORT
What are the different types of custody in Massachusetts? 1955
  • “Sole legal custody”-one parent has the sole right and responsibility to make major decisions regarding the child’s welfare including matters of education, medical care and emotional, moral and religious development.
  • “Shared legal custody”-both parents have responsibility and involvement in major decisions regarding the child’s welfare including matters of education, medical care and emotional, moral and religious development.
  • “Sole physical custody”-the child(ren) reside with and are under the supervision of one parent, commonly subject to reasonable visitation by the other parent.
  • “Shared physical custody”-the child(ren) reside with and are under the supervision of each parent in such a way as to assure the child(ren) frequent and continued contact with both parents.
See Massachusetts G.L. c. 208, § 31 for additional information on child custody.
Will we be able to customize our documents to fit our specific custody and visitation arrangement? 1930
DivorceWriter accommodates parents who want to designate one parent as the legal custodian or for parents who want to share joint legal custody. Parents can also choose to share joint physical custody of the child(ren) or designate one parent as the custodial parent, either with or without vistation for the non-custodial parent.

Choose to customize as little or as much as you need.
  • Customize your own schedule for weekend and weekday vistiation, if any, including setting start and end times.
  • Create a detailed schedule for vacations, holidays, and special occasions, or choose to keep your regular schedule during those times.
  • Decide which parent will have the final say if there are disagreements about major decisions including education, non-emergency health care, and religious upbringing, and create additional decision-making rights if needed.
What if my spouse and I have agreed to a child support amount that is different from the standard amount? 1926
The court will generally allow parents to agree to an amount that is different from the child support amount under the guidelines if using the guideline amount would be "unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances." You must provide specific facts here explaining why you feel a departure from the guideline amount is justified and in the best interests of the child. If you are unable to do so, you must use the guideline amount.
When can a child support order be modified in Massachusetts? 1939
The court can change a child support order if there is a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the parties has occurred and the modification is in the best interests of the children. Common reasons for modification of child support include a significant change in the income of either party or a significant change in the needs of the child(ren).
How is child support calculated in Massachusetts? 1952
Based on the information provided by the customer when completing the Massachusetts online interview, a computer generated Child Support Worksheet is automatically created and sent to the customer as part of the DivorceWriter package. See Massachusetts G.L. c. 208, § 28 for additional information on child support calculation in Massachusetts.
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PROPERTY AND DEBTS
What options do we have for our real estate? 1887
The DivorceWriter provides an array of options for disposing of your real estate, includin... more
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SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
What if one spouse is living in another state or in a foreign country? 1932
You should still be able to obtain a divorce in Massachusetts even if the non-filing spouse (Respondent) is in a foreign country as long as he or she is able to sign documents in front of a Notary Public, and then return those documents to you. If your spouse has any problem locating a Notary Public outside of the U.S., he or she should contact a consular official at any U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, which generally will be able to provide a service similar to that of a Notary Public.

While Massachusetts requires both spouses to attend the divorce hearing, since your spouse is outside of the U.S., he or she should be able to file a notarized affidavit with the Clerk, which explains that he or she is unable to attend because they are out of the country and the cost of travel would be prohibitively expensive. DivorceWriter will provide this affidavit at no additional cost.
What if one spouse is in the military? 803
If both parties are willing to sign the papers, ending your marriage when a spouse is in t... more
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CUSTOMER SERVICE
If unable to find help on this page, issues of a non-legal nature may be directed to customer service.
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