What are the grounds for divorce in Massachusetts?


Deciding to file for divorce can be a difficult decision for any couple. However, this process can become even more challenging when determining whether the divorce will be contested or uncontested. Additionally, you will be faced with choosing between filing for a fault or no fault-based divorce. This means you must consider whether you should cite specific grounds or the reasoning behind your decision to end the marriage. Each couple’s situation is unique; therefore, depending on your marital circumstances, you must determine which type of divorce best suits your specific needs. If a divorce is imminent, please don’t hesitate to contact our talented Bristol County Divorce Options Lawyers, who can help you navigate your legal options. 

What are the different types of fault grounds in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, couples seeking to dissolve their marriage can file for a no-fault or fault-based divorce. If you file for a “no-fault” divorce, you will not be required to cite the grounds or reasoning for ending the marriage. Instead, you would cite irreconcilable differences or irretrievable breakdown of marriage, which means the marriage is broken beyond repair, and neither spouse is to blame. On the other hand, if you were to file a fault-based divorce, you would have to cite one of the specific grounds considered a legally acceptable reason for a divorce set forth by the State of Massachusetts. The following includes the grounds that can be cited for a fault-based divorce in Massachusetts:

  • Adultery
  • Cruel and abusive treatment
  • Utter desertion (at least one year prior to the filing of the complaint)
  • Habitual intoxication caused by the voluntary and excessive use of liquor or drugs
  • Gross, wanton, or cruel refusal or neglect to provide suitable support for the other spouse
  • Impotence
  • A prison sentence of 5 years or more

It’s imperative to note that if you decide to cite desertion, you must meet certain elements. Under the law, for desertion to qualify as grounds for a divorce, the petitioner spouse must demonstrate that the other spouse left voluntarily without justification. Essentially, you must show that there was no legitimate reason for leaving, such as domestic violence. In addition, you must prove that they had no intention of returning, as it was not a mutual decision. It’s also a requirement to show that they did not live with you for at least a year before filing the divorce complaint.

If you want to file a divorce complaint in Massachusetts, contact a trusted Bristol County divorce lawyer from The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C., who can help you determine which divorce route is best for your marital situation.