How to Serve Divorce Papers Under Massachusetts State Law

By Dennis Masino

Divorce is the termination of a marriage by court order. The person who wants a divorce starts a court action that ends with a state court judge signing a judgment ending the marriage. Massachusetts, like other states, has rules and procedures you must follow to obtain a divorce through its courts. The courts do not have the power to decide the case until after the complaint has been filed and the summons has been served.

Step 1

File your divorce complaint with the court registry, or clerk's office, of the Probate and Family Court. The complaint form can be obtained from the court or online document providers. You may file your complaint in the county where either you or your spouse currently live. If your spouse still lives in the county where you both last lived together, you must file the complaint in that county.

Step 2

Get the summons from the court clerk. You will receive a divorce summons, track assignment notice and a copy of the complaint after you file the original complaint with the court registry. If you file the complaint by mailing it, the documents will be mailed to you. If you personally deliver the complaint, the documents may be given to you immediately.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Step 3

Ask your spouse to accept service of the summons. If your spouse is cooperative, you can avoid the fees associated with having the summons and other documents served. There is a place on the summons where your spouse signs to acknowledge receipt of the summons and complaint. This must be signed by your spouse in front of a notary public. If your spouse refuses to accept the documents, the papers must be served.

Step 4

Give the summons and other documents to a sheriff or constable to serve on your spouse. Massachusetts law allows you to use any disinterested person to serve the summons, but the court recommends using the sheriff or constable. After the documents are served on your spouse, the original summons and an affidavit confirming service will be returned to you.

Step 5

File the original summons and the affidavit of service with the registry. This filing shows you complied with the legal requirement that your spouse be served within 90 days from the date you filed the complaint.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Obtain a Divorce in North Carolina
 

References

Related articles

Divorce Decrees in Oklahoma

A divorce decree serves to officially dissolve a marriage and determine the terms of the divorce, including alimony, property division, child custody and support. How long it takes to get a decree in Oklahoma depends on the circumstances of your case and whether you and your spouse can agree to the terms of the divorce. Once the decree is in place, if circumstances change, you may ask the court to modify its terms.

How to Divorce a Person Out of the Country

Divorcing someone who does not live in the United States can be a little like threading a needle in a hurricane -- very difficult, but not necessarily impossible. The divorce process is the same no matter where your spouse lives; it depends on the laws in your state. Serving him with a copy of your divorce petition is the challenge, and service is required by law in all states to begin your proceedings.

How to Apply for a Divorce Decree Document

A divorce decree is a document prepared by the court that specifies the terms and conditions of the divorce. Typically, it is kept on file at the Office of the County Clerk in the county where the divorce proceedings occurred. It is important to have a copy of your divorce decree as it is the formal legal document that declares your divorce finalized and, where appropriate, contains the court’s determinations as to division of marital property, child support and visitation, and spousal support. You need a copy of your divorce decree to remarry, obtain a legal name change, or remove a former spouse’s name from any joint loans or bank accounts.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to File Your Own Divorce Papers in Tennessee

In order to file for divorce in Tennessee, you must draw up the necessary papers, file them with a court clerk, have ...

How to Serve Divorce Papers in Texas

Often, the easiest part of getting a divorce is filing your petition with the court. Your next step after the court ...

How to Serve a Divorce Summons in California

In California, after you file a Petition (form FL-100) for divorce, you provide your spouse a copy of the Petition and ...

How to Get a Certified Copy of Your Divorce Decree in Wisconsin

Unlike a divorce certificate, a divorce decree has more detailed information regarding the terms of your divorce, such ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED