|Massachusetts Divorce Statutes
Massachusetts Chapter 208 "Divorce" Section 1A. An action for divorce on the ground of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage may be commenced with the filing of: (a) a petition signed by both joint petitioners or their attorneys; (b) a sworn affidavit that is either jointly or separately executed by the petitioners that an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage exists; and (c) a notarized separation agreement executed by the parties except as hereinafter set forth and no summons or answer shall be required. After a hearing on a separation agreement which has been presented to the court, the court shall, within thirty days of said hearing, make a finding as to whether or not an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage exists and whether or not the agreement has made proper provisions for custody, for support and maintenance, for alimony and for the disposition of marital property, where applicable. In making its finding, the court shall apply the provisions of section thirty-four, except that the court shall make no inquiry into, nor consider any evidence of the individual marital fault of the parties. In the event the notarized separation agreement has not been filed at the time of the commencement of the action, it shall in any event be filed with the court within ninety days following the commencement of said action.
If the finding is in the affirmative, the court shall approve the agreement and enter a judgment of divorce nisi. The agreement either shall be incorporated and merged into said judgment or by agreement of the parties, it shall be incorporated and not merged, but shall survive and remain as an independent contract. In the event that the court does not approve the agreement as executed, or modified by agreement of the parties, said agreement shall become null and void and of no further effect between the parties; and the action shall be treated as dismissed, but without prejudice. Following approval of an agreement by the court but prior to the entry of judgment nisi, said agreement may be modified in accordance with the foregoing provisions at any time by agreement of the parties and with the approval of the court, or by the court upon the petition of one of the parties after a showing of a substantial change of circumstances; and the agreement, as modified, shall continue as the order of the court.
Thirty days from the time that the court has given its initial approval to a dissolution agreement of the parties which makes proper provisions for custody, support and maintenance, alimony, and for the disposition of marital property, where applicable, notwithstanding subsequent modification of said agreement, a judgment of divorce nisi shall be entered without further action by the parties.
Nothing in the foregoing shall prevent the court, at any time prior to the approval of the agreement by the court, from making temporary orders for custody, support and maintenance, or such other temporary orders as it deems appropriate, including referral of the parties and the children, if any, for marriage or family counseling.
Prior to the entry of judgment under this section, the petition may be withdrawn by mutual agreement of the parties.
An action commenced under this section shall be placed by the register of probate for the county in which the action is so commenced on a hearing list separate from that for all other actions for divorce brought under this chapter, and shall be given a speedy hearing on the dissolution agreement insofar as that is consistent with the wishes of the parties.
TITLE III DOMESTIC RELATIONS
CHAPTER 208 DIVORCE
Section 1B Irretrievable breakdown of marriage; commencement of action; waiting period; unaccompanied complaint; procedure
Massachusetts Chapter 208 Divorce Section 1B: ("contested" divorce statute in Massachusetts)
Section 1B. An action for divorce on the ground of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage may be commenced by the filing of the complaint unaccompanied by the signed statement and dissolution agreement of the parties required in section one A.
No earlier than six months after the filing of the complaint, there shall be a hearing and the court may enter a judgment of divorce nisi if the court finds that there has existed, for the period following the filing of the complaint and up to the date of the hearing, a continuing irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, at the election of the court hereunder, the aforesaid six month period may be waived to allow the consolidation for the purposes of hearing a complaint commenced under this section with a complaint for divorce commenced by the opposing party under section one.
The filing of a complaint for divorce under this section shall not affect the ability of the defendant to obtain a hearing on a complaint for divorce filed under section one, even if the aforesaid six month period has not yet expired.
Said six month period shall be determined from the filing of a complaint for divorce. In the event that a complaint for divorce is commenced in accordance with the provisions of section one A or is for a cause set forth under section one, and said complaint is later amended to set forth the ground established in this section, the six month period herein set forth shall be computed from the date of the filing of said complaint.
As part of the entry of the judgment of divorce nisi, appropriate orders shall be made by the court with respect to custody, support and maintenance of children, and, in accordance with the provisions of section thirty-four, for alimony and for the disposition of marital property.
Nothing in the foregoing shall prevent the court, at any time prior to judgment, from making temporary orders for custody, support and maintenance or such other temporary orders as it deems appropriate, including referral of the parties and the children, if any, for marriage or family counseling.
Prior to the entry of judgment under this section, in the event that the parties file the statement and dissolution agreement as required under section one A hereinabove, then said action for divorce shall proceed under said section one A.