No one looks forward to dealing with the paperwork of divorce, even when people are enjoying the prospect of a fresh start in life. But life in a marriage can bring people far and wide, and many couples do not dissolve their legal relationship in the same jurisdiction where they tied the knot.

When it comes to marriages that began outside Massachusetts or the United States, courts need to prove there is a legal marriage to dissolve. A marriage certificate from an out-of-state or foreign court may be filed with a local authority with an application to file a marriage certificate late. This form is available from courts in the Bay State.

Some other countries and states do not maintain marriage certificates going back for more than a decade or two, which may complicate the process of getting a certified copy. An embassy may be able to certify a copy, and a certified translation may also be required if an original certificate is in a language other than English.

Original documents should always be brought to divorce hearings and other scheduled proceedings. Dropping these documents in the mail does not guarantee that a court will grant the divorce or even receive them before they are required to prove a marriage exists.

Individuals and couples looking for legal help ending a marriage always have the right to an attorney to consult on how to organize the documents for the court’s consideration. A lawyer can represent the interests of a spouse looking to start a new life and complete a divorce in Massachusetts as soon as possible.