Massachusetts Divorce Law Issues
The following issues are likely to be encountered in order to
obtain a divorce in Massachusetts.
Residency Requirements and Where to File:
If the grounds for divorce occurred in Massachusetts one spouse
must be a current resident. If the grounds occurred outside of
the state, the spouse filing for divorce must have been a resident
for at least 1 year. In general the divorce should be filed for
in the county in which the spouses last lived together. If neither
spouse is currently living in that county then the divorce can
be filed in a county where either spouse currently resides.
Grounds for Divorce:
No-Fault: Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
The other general grounds for a divorce in Massachusetts include:
(1) impotence; (2) imprisonment for over 5 years; (3) adultery;
(4) alcoholism and/or drug addiction; (5) desertion for 1 year
before the filing for divorce; (6) cruel and inhuman treatment;
and (7) nonsupport in which
a spouse is able to provide support but grossly, wantonly, or
cruelly refuses or neglects to provide suitable maintenance for
the complaining spouse.
In Massachusetts there are two forms of child custody: legal
custody and physical custody. Physical custody of the child means
that the child lives with that parent. Very often one parent
will have sole physical custody of the child and the other parent
will have visitation rights.
Legal custody dictates what rights and obligations each parent
has regarding the medical, educational and other needs of the
child. Very often, the parents will have joint legal custody
of the child and share the obligations.
When there is a disagreement about custody, the Court may
appoint a guardian ad litem who is empowered to investigate and
recommend an appropriate parenting schedule and custody arrangement.
In Massachusetts, a parent's child support obligations generally
follow standard "Child Support Guidelines." However,
when one party earns more than $75,000 or both parties together
earn more than $100,000, the guidelines do not apply.