Filing for Separation Vs. Divorce in Massachusetts

By Mark Vansetti

In Massachusetts, courts do not recognize or grant couples legal separations. If spouses choose to divorce, the court enters a judgment of divorce that legally ends the marriage. Some couples decide not to divorce, but to live apart instead for religious reasons, personal preference or in an attempt to work out the marriage. In such cases, Massachusetts law allows the court to enter a separate support judgment that includes spousal support and certain other terms, while not actually giving legal status to the separation.

In Massachusetts, courts do not recognize or grant couples legal separations. If spouses choose to divorce, the court enters a judgment of divorce that legally ends the marriage. Some couples decide not to divorce, but to live apart instead for religious reasons, personal preference or in an attempt to work out the marriage. In such cases, Massachusetts law allows the court to enter a separate support judgment that includes spousal support and certain other terms, while not actually giving legal status to the separation.

No Legal Separations in Massachusetts

In many states, courts grant divorces and legal separations, but Massachusetts law does not recognize legal separations. If a couple chooses to separate yet not go forward with a divorce, Massachusetts law allows one of the spouses to file for an order for separate support. This allows the court to enter a separate support judgment that addresses some terms of the separation, including spousal support.

File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now

Separate Support Judgment

The separate support judgment does not end the marriage in Massachusetts, but it does grant spousal support along with other important factors. For example, a separate support judgment can address custody issues, visitation or child support. To obtain a separation support judgment, one spouse must file the standard form, Complaint for Separate Support. The marriage itself does not end when the court enters the support judgment. Only a divorce proceeding can permanently and legally end a marriage in Massachusetts.

Grounds for Divorce

Under Massachusetts law, the spouse filing for divorce must define a reason, or legal grounds, for the divorce. The law provides seven grounds alleging that one spouse was at fault and one no-fault ground. The no-fault ground for divorce simply means that the marriage is beyond repair and the spouses wish to divorce, but neither spouse is particularly at fault. The fault grounds include reasons such as cruel and abusive treatment, desertion, adultery, impotency, drug or alcohol abuse, neglect or imprisonment.

Divorce Judgment

If the spouses choose to file for divorce instead of simply separating, the marriage ends when the court enters a final divorce judgment. If there are children of the marriage, the divorce judgment can also address custody, child support and visitation. The judge may also include spousal support, instructions regarding division of assets or debts and the disposition of the family home. The parties may agree to certain terms regarding these issues or, if they cannot agree, the court will order terms.

File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now
Does Filing for Divorce Include Separation in Wisconsin?

References

Related articles

Arkansas Laws for Separation

Marital separation can be particularly complicated in Arkansas because the state recognizes two types of marriages and three kinds of legal separation. Sorting through all the laws and rules pertaining to each can be daunting, but the method of separation you choose comes down to a few basics: your personal preferences, your ability to negotiate and how you got married.

Separation Laws in Virginia

Separation is Virginia's version of a no-fault divorce, but the state is not very strict about its requirements. Other than the duration of your separation, Virginia imposes few rules for its terms. You don't have to file anything with the court to begin the separation period, and a written agreement between you and your spouse is optional.

What Does Legal Separation Involve?

Legal separation can be difficult to understand because the same process isn't recognized in all states. In some jurisdictions, you must simply sign an agreement with your spouse to become officially separated. In others, you must involve the court. Universally, however, a legal separation defines the terms of living apart. The differences lie in how you achieve this.

Related articles

Can a Husband Get a Divorce if His Wife Will Not Give Him Consent in Massachusetts?

Divorces can be a simple process if both spouses agree to the divorce and its terms, including property division, ...

How Soon Can You Remarry After a Divorce in Massachusetts?

When one or both spouses come to the realization that a divorce is necessary, the last thing either party wants is a ...

The Termination of Marriage & a Legal Separation in Oklahoma

Divorce is a significant step and sometimes spouses like to take it slowly. Not all states recognize legal separation, ...

How to File for a Legal Separation in Massachusetts

Massachusetts courts do not issue judgments for legal separation. However, if spouses choose to separate without ...

Browse by category