What are the grounds for divorce in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208 Sections 1, 1A and 1B set out the grounds for divorce in state. There are eight different reasons for a divorce: adultery, impotence, desertion, gross and confirmed intoxication by use of liquor or drugs, nonsupport, sentence of confinement in a penal institution, cruel and abusive treatment, and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The first seven of these grounds are based on fault, while irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is called a “no-fault” divorce.
Divorce Based on Fault:
Adultery means infidelity–cheating on a spouse. Impotence means the inability of one of the parties to the marriage to perform sex. Desertion basically means abandonment–leaving a spouse without their consent and with no justification or intent to come back. Gross and confirmed intoxication means excessive drinking or drug use (3-4 times a year for 12-15 years and/or 7-10 day binges plus occasional confinement will be enough). Sentence of confinement in a penal institution means confinement in prison for life or for 5 years or more. Cruel and abusive treatment is the most common ground for divorce when it’s based on fault. Usually it is raised when one spouse mentally or physically abuses the other causing harm or injury.
Divorce Not Based on Fault:
An uncontested “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” does not involve fault on the part of either spouse. It is the most common and fastest way to get divorced. When there is an agreement, No Fault Divorce only takes four months to become final.
What are the defenses?
There are four defenses may be available depending on the grounds for divorce, and a defendant will have to plead them affirmatively. These are: connivance, condonation, collusion and insanity. Connivance means that the conduct of the plaintiff spouse assisted the other in committing adultery. Condonation means express or implied forgiveness. Collusion is when the husband and wife agree to make it look like there has been a matrimonial offense, but with the advent of the no-fault divorce, this is probably no longer available. Finally, insanity is a defense because insane persons are not responsible for their behavior.
Call a Divorce Lawyer Today
Each divorce is as unique as the individuals involved. When selecting a Massachusetts divorce lawyer to undertake your divorce case, choose a lawyer who possesses both extensive experience and sensitivity. Contact Jon Fields of Fields and Dennis LLP through today at 781-489-6776.