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Divorce Laws in Massachusetts

Common law marriage does not exist in Massachusetts but Massachusetts courts will recognize common law marriages that were established in other states.

In most states child support is paid until the child turns 18 years old. In Massachusetts child support may last until the child turns 23, if the child is still living with one of the parents.

Residency and jurisdiction
If the cause of divorce occurred in Massachusetts, then one spouse must currently live in the State. If the cause of divorce occurred outside of Massachusetts, then one spouse must have lived in the State for at least one year.

If one spouse still lives in the county where the couple last lived together, divorce must be filed in that county. Otherwise divorce may be filed in the county where either spouse lives. If the location of filing causes a significant hardship to either spouse the court may transfer the divorce to the county in which that spouse lives.

Fault or no fault and grounds for divorce
Massachusetts allows fault and no fault divorce. No fault divorce will be granted on the grounds of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Fault divorce can be filed on the following grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Impotence
  • Desertion for one year
  • Habitual drug or alcohol abuse
  • Cruel and abusive treatment
  • Cruel and intentional lack of financial support

Division of property
Massachusetts is an "equitable distribution" state meaning the property is not divided 50/50 but rather in a manner that the court deems fair to both parties. The court must consider the following factors when dividing property:

  • Length of marriage
  • Conduct during marriage
  • Age and health
  • Station and occupation
  • Sources of income
  • Vocational skills and employability
  • Estate
  • Needs and debts
  • Potential for future earning capacity and ability to acquire assets

Spousal support
When determining spousal support, in Maryland, the court must consider the same factors that are considered when dividing property and may also consider:

  • Contributions to the estate
  • Contributions as homemaker

The court may order the paying spouse to provide health insurance for the receiving spouse. This will not reduce the support amount.

Child custody and support
Massachusetts favors child custody plans agreed upon and submitted by the parents. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will decide for them. When determining child custody, the court must consider many factors including:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Desertion of the child
  • A history of cooperation in matters concerning the child

Massachusetts follows the Percentage of Income formula for calculating child support. In some cases, child support may be ordered until the child reaches the age of 23.

If you are considering or facing divorce in Massachusetts, contact an experienced divorce attorney today.

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Disclaimer: Divorce law information contained throughout this page is intended to generally inform you about divorce law in Massachusetts and introduce you to divorce lawyers throughout the U.S. The information regarding divorce and divorce law is not meant to be taken as legal advice. If you like to speak with an experienced divorce attorney, click on the link to your state to find an experienced divorce attorney in your area for an initial consultation.
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