Filing for Divorce in MA

What is needed?

First, you must prove that you were married. To do so, you must obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the government department or agency who holds the record that can be found where you were married.

Where can I get a copy of my marriage certificate?

In Massachusetts, you may obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the city or town hall clerk’s office where you obtained your marriage license. You may also go to the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records, which holds the birth, death, and marriage certificate filed in Massachusetts.

What about a religious certificate from our church?

A religious marriage document is not acceptable, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Certain special action is required for this document, which may include a motion to bring your special circumstance before a judge for approval.

What do I do with the marriage certificate?

Once you have the certified of your marriage certificate, it is filed with the court at the time you file for divorce. You can find more information on the required filing information here.

What are residency requirements?

In order to file a complaint for divorce in Massachusetts, you must prove that you meet the residency requirements. If you do not meet these requirements, a family court clerk will not accept your divorce case for filing.

Why does residency matter?

Courts have certain jurisdiction requirements they must meet before a judge can preside over your case. In order for the court to file your case, it must have jurisdiction over both spouses.

What are the residency requirements in Massachusetts?

If the breakdown of the marriage occurred in Massachusetts…

If the breakdown of the marriage occurred in MA, either you or your spouse must be a resident of the state of Massachusetts in order to file for divorce.

If the breakdown of the marriage occurred outside the state of Massachusetts…

If the breakdown of the marriage occurred outside the state of Massachusetts, then one spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 1 year.

How do I know what court to file in?

Actions for divorce shall be filed, heard, and determined:

  1. In a Massachusetts Probate and Family Court
  2. Located in the county where the parties last lived together, as long as one of the parties continues to reside in that county
  3. If neither party remains in the county where the parties last lived together, the action shall be heard and determined in the probate and family court in the county in which either spouse resides.
  4. If the location of the court is an inconvenience to either party, the court that has jurisdiction to hear the case, can transfer the case to a different court in a county where the inconvenienced party resides.

What is a Complaint for Divorce?

A Complaint for Divorce is the first step to filing a divorce in Massachusetts. The Complaint for Divorce is a court form that either you or your attorney will fill out and file with the Probate and Family Court that has jurisdiction over your case.

Is the Complaint for Divorce all I need to file?

When filing the Complaint for Divorce, you will include additional documents, such as your marriage certificate and other statistical and informational forms.

Where can I find these forms?

Click here to view the court forms you need to file for a divorce.