How to file a fault divorce in Massachusetts

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | Divorce

There is no one right way to pursue a divorce. Some states, like Massachusetts, allow spouses to file either a fault or no-fault divorce. In no-fault divorces, spouses can formally end the marriage based on its irretrievable breakdown. In this method, spouses only have to show that there is no longer a chance of reconciliation. The court does not require the parties to prove anything else.

On the other hand, filing a divorce based on fault comes with the obligation to prove the ground for the divorce.

Establishing the basis for the divorce petition

Before separating spouses can pursue a fault divorce in Massachusetts, the fault-alleging spouse must show evidence to prove any of the following grounds of fault divorce:

  • Infidelity
  • Abandonment
  • Habitual use of drugs or alcohol
  • Violence, abuse or cruelty
  • Incarceration of more than five years
  • Failure to provide support
  • Impotence

What the court could consider sufficient proof varies for each fault ground. For instance, before the court acknowledges abandonment, the petitioner must prove that the other spouse left on their own will, without the petitioner’s consent, had no intention of returning and the spouses did not cohabit for at least a year prior to the divorce petition.

Fault divorce does not always involve a dispute

Both fault and no-fault divorces can be contested or uncontested. It is possible for spouses to agree that marriage is irretrievable, but simultaneously disagree on the terms of the divorce. Similarly, a spouse could claim fault, and the other could assume the blame and agree on the divorce terms. Every divorce is simply case-by-case.

Know the best course of action for you

Keeping yourself abreast with the divorce process can give you an edge during the proceedings. Whether you are filing a fault or no-fault divorce, you must ensure that you continue protecting your rights. This is possible through a careful review of the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and guidance from a knowledgeable legal expert.