What Is No Fault Divorce?

An uncontested no fault divorce in Massachusetts is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208 Section 1A. The term that the statute uses is “irretrievable breakdown”. The first issue that is addressed in a §1A divorce is whether the marriage has in fact broken down with no chance of reconciliation. In this action all that is required to make this showing is an affidavit, jointly or separately executed, stating the marriage is over.

Well, that’s often the easy part. Now what?

There are still a couple of thorny issues that must be addressed: Child custody/support, division of marital property, and, if appropriate, alimony.

The Commonwealth has clearly defined child support guidelines. The amount of support is based on the income of the party’s and the number of children. Generally, this amount is not open to discussion as you simply “fill in the blanks” to determine how much is owed. The non-custodial parent is responsible for paying child support.

Developing a parenting plan is an important element of any divorce agreement. This is an area where mediation can be helpful. Because this subject is fraught with emotion, the mediator, a neutral third party, can be very helpful in assisting the parents to clarify the issues and their mutual interest in meeting the needs of the children.

What happens if the parents cannot agree on who has custody of the children? The court uses a “best interest of the child” standard. In the next post I will discuss what that standard refers to.

I welcome your questions and comments. What’s on your mind? What would you like to discuss? Leave a comment.

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