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The difference between at- and no-fault divorces in Massachusetts

The State of Massachusetts has a specific set of terms that describes what a divorce is and is not. Overall, a divorce is actually a process for legally ending a marriage. Unlike some states, Massachusetts-based divorces can be cited as "fault" or "no-fault." There are a few key differences that you need to understand.

With an at-fault divorce, there are seven distinct grounds on which people can choose to divorce. These include adultery, desertion, cruel and abusive treatment, non-support, a prison sentence of five or more years, gross and confirmed habits of intoxication, or impotency. Any of these faults must be able to be proven by the person requesting the divorce. At-fault divorces tend to cost more and be more time-consuming than those that are no-fault divorces.

No-fault divorces are different because neither party is determined to be at fault. A no-fault divorce is called an "irretrievable breakdown of marriage," in which a marriage is broken beyond repair but neither spouse blames the other. Two types of no-fault divorces exist. In 1A divorces, both parties agree that a divorce is needed and have agreed to child support, visitation, child custody, the division of marital assets, and alimony. In a 1B divorce, both spouses may believe the marriage has ended, but they haven't been able to agree one one or any of the previous settlement categories.

If you're going through a divorce, the way you classify it can make a difference. If you can settle your differences and come to agreements over custody and property outside court, you may be able to complete your divorce much faster. If not, then you still have options to get the divorce moving.

Source: Mass.Gov, "Divorce" accessed Feb. 05, 2015

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