a fork in the road with blue and white arrows pointing left and right Divorce

Parties almost always file for no-fault divorce in Massachusetts, alleging that the marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown.”  

In an uncontested petition, parties may agree upon terms before going to court and file a joint petition for divorce, known as a “1A” petition.  (M.G.L. c. 208, § 1A)

Where parties are unable to agree on terms ahead of time, one party may unilaterally file a “contested” petition for divorce, known as a “1B” petition.  (M.G.L. c. 208, § 1B).

Even when a petition is filed as a contested, 1B petition, it may be converted to an uncontested petition, if and when the parties are able to reach agreement on the terms of divorce, and the vast majority of contested divorce petitions are settled before trial. 

Nussbaum Family Law LLC will work with you to file a divorce petition depending on your individual needs and your particular situation. We believe that peaceful resolution of divorce is usually but not always the best way forward for parties seeking divorce.

Nussbaum Family Law LLC offers numerous options in obtaining a divorce, including Collaborative Law, Mediation, and settlement-based out-of-court or in-court representation.

1A Procedure

  • You negotiate all terms of your divorce, through mediation, collaborative law, or other out-of-court settlement negotiations, in a financially transparent, cooperative process.
  • Those terms are incorporated in a Separation Agreement drafted by your lawyer or lawyer-mediator, which you and your spouse sign before a notary public.
  • Your “1A Package” is filed in the appropriate Probate and Family Court, consisting of your filing fee, Separation Agreement, and other necessary documents: Joint Petition for Divorce; certified copy of your Marriage Certificate; Joint Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown;  Care and Custody Affidavits (OCAJ-1) and Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (CJD-304) if you have children from the marriage; Report of Divorce Absolute/R-408; and your Rule 401 Probate and Family Court Financial Statements (long-form or short-form, depending on your income and accompanying schedules, if applicable).
  • You and your spouse appear at hearings in the Probate and Family Court, either in-person or virtual (Zoom) with your lawyers for the Court’s review.
  • Assuming the Court accepts your Agreement, 30 days after the hearing, the Court issues the Judgment of Divorce Nisi, which becomes Divorce Absolute after an additional 90 days of statutory waiting period, for a total of 120 days from the hearing. 

For more information on filing a 1A divorce, see: Get a No-Fault 1A Divorce.

1B Procedure

  • File a Complaint for Divorce in the appropriate Probate and Family Court, along with the necessary paperwork: filing fee; certified copy of your marriage certificate, Affidavit of Care and Custody proceedings (if you have children of the marriage), Military Affidavit, Uniform Counsel Certification Form, and if necessary, Motions for Temporary Orders (child support, custody, spousal support/alimony); 
  • Serve the Summons and Complaint on your spouse, either through their lawyer or through service of process;
  • Exchange financial information, including Probate and Family Court Rule 401 financial statements and automatic disclosure under Supplemental Probate and Family Court Rule 410 and conduct formal discovery, if appropriate;
  • Negotiate and draft a Separation Agreement, through settlement negotiations and/or mediation (If a settlement is reached within six months of filing of the complaint, the process may be converted to a 1A petition for divorce by motion);
  • Submit a Pre-Trial memorandum and attend Pre-trial Hearing if settlement has not yet been reached;
  • Hearing on the merits. Judgment is finalized 90 days after hearing or submission of a settlement agreement.

For more information on filing a 1B divorce, see: Get a No-Fault 1B Divorce.