In an uncontested divorce—also called a "no-fault 1a divorce" in Massachusetts—the spouses agree on all the issues required to end their marriage. There's no need for the judge to hold a trial, and the process is much faster and cheaper than a contested divorce. For all divorces, spouses have the option of getting professional help to complete and file the divorce paperwork. However, because uncontested divorce is a simpler process, spouses often use an online DIY solution like an online divorce service to complete a 1a divorce.
An uncontested divorce, also known as a no-fault 1A divorce, is where both spouses agree on all the key terms of the divorce, such as custody and child support, property division, alimony, and health and dental insurance cover for children. This process allows couples to retain control over their divorce and create the type of agreement best suited to their needs.
Spouses who are unable to agree will have to go to trial on their divorce. At trial, a judge will decide all issues in your case based on the evidence presented. But keep in mind, you can still reach an agreement at any time before the judge issues a final order.
To file for divorce in Massachusetts, you must meet the residency requirements. If the cause of the divorce happened in Massachusetts, one of the spouses must be a resident of Massachusetts. However, if the cause of the divorce happened outside Massachusetts, one of the spouses must have lived in Massachusetts for at least a full year before filing.
When you file for divorce, you'll need to state a "ground," or legal cause of the divorce. To seek a no-fault divorce in Massachusetts, you'll cite an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as your grounds. In a no-fault divorce, there's no need to argue about intimate details of your marriage in a courtroom or prove that one spouse caused the marriage to fail.
In addition to the general requirements for divorce, you must meet the requirements for no-fault 1A divorce. Divorcing couples can file for a 1A divorce if the spouses:
Spouses can reach a divorce agreement on their own or with the help of a mediator. For a court to recognize a settlement agreement as valid, both spouses must sign the agreement in front of a notary.
You can access the uncontested divorce forms and instructions from the Massachusetts divorce guide. You'll need to locate the correct forms and complete them. Or, you can use a DIY service like DivorceNet's Online Divorce, which fills out the forms for you.
You'll prepare two key documents: a joint petition and a written divorce separation agreement, which memorialize the terms of your settlement. If you have minor children with your spouse, you must complete additional paperwork concerning child custody and support.
Once your paperwork is complete, you can file the paperwork in person or by mail. If you or your spouse lives in the county where you lived together while married, you should file with the Probate and Family Court in that county. Otherwise, you can file in the county where you or your spouse currently live.
The clerk of court will charge a filing fee, but if you can't afford to pay, don't worry. You can ask for a fee waiver form, which you will fill out and use to provide the court with financial information. If you meet the income guidelines, a judge will sign an order eliminating all fees for the duration of the case.
A judge will review your paperwork to ensure that your agreement is reasonably fair, resolves all issues in your divorce, and serves the best interests of your children, if any. If your agreement meets these requirements, a judge will schedule your case for a final hearing.
At the final hearing, the spouses will give testimony by responding to brief questioning from the judge. If the terms are fair and reasonable and you've met all of Massachusetts' requirements for an uncontested divorce, the judge will sign the final divorce order. The divorce becomes final 90 days after the judgment date.
In Massachusetts, a judgment of divorce will be issued 30 days after entry of the divorce order. Even when spouses agree, your divorce won't become final until 90 days after the judge signs the judgment of divorce. (Mass. Gen. Laws Part II, Title III, Chapter 208 § 1A (2021).)