What is a No-Fault Divorce in Massachusetts?

If you have been keeping up with the news lately, you may have noticed people using the term “no fault divorce.” No fault divorce is an important concept in divorce, but many people are not familiar with what it means. If you’re wondering whether you can have a no-fault divorce in Massachusetts, the answer is yes. But if no-fault divorce is one option, what is the alternative?

Prior to no-fault divorce, parties were required to provide a reason for divorce caused by one or both of the parties. No-fault divorce on the other hand, is a divorce where both parties agree to file for divorce based on a reason that does not find fault in either spouse. Instead, the reasons cited for no-fault divorce are “irreconcilable differences” or an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage.

In Massachusetts there are two types of no-fault divorce. You can file a 1A no-fault divorce when both spouses agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and can work together to create a written agreement about child support, child custody, alimony, property division and parenting time. You may file for a 1B no-fault contested divorce when only one spouse agrees the marriage is over, and/or you can’t agree on child support, child custody, alimony, property division or parenting time.

Although most attorneys recommend filing for a no-fault divorce, it is possible in Massachusetts to file for a divorce based on grounds of fault. The process is more expensive and time consuming because divorcing spouses are required to prove fault. In Massachusetts there is a list of faults a person can cite as a reason for marital breakdown, including adultery, desertion and cruel and abusive treatment. People may file for a divorce on fault-based grounds because proving the behavior in question could be a way to grant alimony, additional assets, or full child custody. However, since marital conduct is already considered by judges in Massachusetts divorce cases, it is usually unnecessary to resort to fault-based divorce.

A no-fault divorce may be contested or uncontested. In a contested divorce a judge will decide upon the matters the couple can’t agree on. In an uncontested no-fault divorce, the couple may come to an agreement on most matters except for child custody and child support without going to court. In these divorces, couples often choose to work with a divorce mediator or with separate divorce attorneys who practice collaborative divorce. The advantage of mediated or collaborative no-fault divorce is that it is more cost-effective, efficient and quicker to resolve.

Learn more about your options for a Massachusetts divorce by contacting the team of experienced divorce attorneys and attorney mediators at Amaral & Associates, P.C. At our Family Law and Estate Planning Center you can find the answers to most of your divorce questions and decide on the right divorce for your situation, then please call (617) 539-1010 ext. 111 or email Attorney Edward L. Amaral, Jr. at edamaral@amarallaw.com.



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