What Is An Irretrievable Breakdown Of Marriage In Massachusetts?

married couple fighting irretrievable breakdown

When filing for divorce in Massachusetts, spouses can either file for a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce. Most divorces nowadays are uncontested or “no-fault” because the process for contested divorces is much more complicated. While contested divorces require specific grounds for divorce, couples can cite the “irretrievable breakdown” of their marriage as grounds for an uncontested divorce. To learn more about what this phrase means in the legal world, read on or reach out to one of our Bristol County, MA Grounds for Divorce Lawyers today!


Essentially, this means that two spouses are unable to work through differences in their marriage but have mutually agreed that divorce is the only viable option. If you cite an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage as the grounds for your divorce, you might need to prove that your marriage has been broken for at least six months. This does not mean you need to have been living separately from your spouse during that time period, but there’s a chance that you must show in court how your marital relationship has ended for the past six months or longer.


The first step is ensuring that both you and your spouse agree that divorce is the best option. In Massachusetts, you may file for divorce jointly with your spouse. If you decide to file the petition yourself at a local courthouse, you’ll need to hire a process server or sheriff to serve the divorce papers to your spouse. Once the divorce papers are successfully filed and received, spouses can decide on settlement agreements either in the courtroom or through mediation.

Many spouses going through uncontested divorces choose to hire a mediator. This may be preferable because the mediator can help spouses come to a reasonable agreement without needing to battle it out in the courtroom. Litigation (AKA arguing settlement decisions in front of a judge) is most common with contested divorces because one spouse needs to prove in court that the other spouse committed an act that caused the marriage to end. Instead of letting a judge make final decisions, mediation allows spouses to work together towards an agreement that benefits both parties.

Are you considering filing for a divorce? Are you looking for a trusted divorce attorney who can guide you through this difficult process? Look no further because the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley is here for you! Contact us today for an initial consultation.