How do you file for a no fault, uncontested divorce in Massachusetts?

My goal is to provide you and your spouse all of the information and paperwork necessary to successfully file for a 1A  - a no-fault, uncontested - divorce.

 

  • Papers needed in all 1A Divorces

 

  • Joint Petition for Divorce – signed by both parties.

  • Affidavit of irretrievable Breakdown – signed by both parties.  This says your marriage has broken down and cannot continue.  Your affidavit has to say that you swear what you are saying is true.

  • Separation Agreement – signed by both parties with each signature notarized.  This must address the issues of the division of marital property, proper provisions for alimony (even if it is not requested by either party), custody, support and maintenance of any minor children.

  • Certified Copy of Marriage Certificate – From the town/city where married.

  • Financial Statements – Each party must file a separate statement listing all financial information sworn to under the pain and penalties of perjury and all lines must be filled out completely.  Even if there are no children, this form must be completed by both parties.

  • Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Annulment Statistical Information Form (R-408)

  • Request for Assignment Form

  • Court Filing Fee of $215.00 – Payable by Money Order or Bank Check.  Personal Checks and Cash will not be accepted.

 

  • Additional Requirements in 1A Divorces with Minor Children (under 18 years of age)

 

  • Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody of a Child

  • Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.

 

  • Exceptions:

    • Cases where combined gross income of both parties exceeds $100,000.00 and where the income of the non-custodial parent exceeds $75,000.00.

    • Cases where there is Shared or Split Physical Custody

 

  • Parent Education Certificate

    • In order to receive a court hearing in this matter both parties MUST attend a Parent Education Program. You MUST file your Parent Education Certificate with the court.  This is the yellow certificate that you receive at the completion of your attendance in the program.

 

  • Filing

 

  • You can file for divorce in Massachusetts if:

 

  • you have lived in the state for a year, or

  • you lived together as a married couple in Massachusetts and the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage happened in Massachusetts.

  • If either of these two things is true, then you can file for divorce in Massachusetts, even if your spouse lives in another state, or you do not know where (s)he lives.

 

  • For divorce purposes, Massachusetts is divided into counties.

 

  • If your spouse still lives in the county where you last lived together, you have to file for divorce in the Probate and Family Court in that county.

  • If your spouse has moved out of that county, then you can file in the county where you live or in the county where your spouse lives now.

 

  • The Barnstable County Probate and Family Court is located at 3195 Main Street, Barnstable, MA 02630.  The office is open to the public from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM Monday through Friday.

 

  • Once you file all your papers with the Court, these papers must be processed.  Processing your petition and other papers means that your case needs to be indexed, assigned a docket number, file stamped, docketed into the official court docket, and money needs to be documented and forwarded into the State's Account.

 

  • The request for assignment then goes to the Trial Department to be scheduled for a hearing.  All papers above MUST be filed in order for the Trial Department to schedule a hearing.  If any paper is not filed, including the Parent Education Certificate, your request for assignment will be returned to you and no hearing will be scheduled.  If all papers have been filed, you should receive a hearing notice in the mail stating your Uncontested Trial date.

 

  • The Notice of Uncontested Trial will tell you when your court date will be.  It generally takes approximately 2 to 4 weeks for a Court Date, provided all papers and certificates are received by the Court.  If you do not receive your Notice for a court date within 2 weeks after you file, and you have filed all the appropriate papers, including the Parent Education Certificates, you should contact the court.

 

  • Final Hearing

 

  • Both spouses must attend the court hearing, unless there is a motion filed and the courts accept the appearance waiver.

 

  • At the final hearing, you present your affidavit of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and your separation agreement to the judge.

 

  • You and your spouse must show the judge in the affidavit that the marriage has broken down.

  • You must show the judge that the agreement is fair and reasonable about custody, child support, alimony and dividing your property.

  • The judge has the sole authority to accept, reject, or modify the agreement.

  • In order to approve the Separation Agreement, the judge must find the settlement fair and reasonable under the laws of the Commonwealth.

  • If the judge finds the Separation Agreement unfair and unreasonable according to the court’s legal standards, the judge cannot accept the settlement.

 

  • At the hearing you ask the judge to approve the agreement and “incorporate” it in the divorce judgment.  “Incorporating” the agreement in the divorce means that the judge grants the divorce and orders you and your spouse to obey the agreement.

 

  • Thirty days after the Judge approves the separation agreement, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue.  The NISI is automatically entered by the trial court.  Ninety days later, the divorce judgment is final, and this is the actual date of the divorce, called the date of Absolute Divorce. 

 

  • A Certificate of Divorce Absolute can be obtained from the Court on the day after the divorce becomes final for a fee of $20.00. The Certificate of Divorce Absolute can be requested by filling out the "Request for Copies" form and forwarding it to the Court with your bank check or money order of $20.00.

184 Jones Road, Falmouth, MA 02540      508-566-4159

 

© by Alan Jacobs  Photography © Paul W. Bailey