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. (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 208, Section 1A) If this information does not accompany the complaint, then the court must wait at least six months before holding a divorce hearing. (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 208, Section 1B)
Different forms for the petition for divorce are used depending on whether the divorce is contested or not, explained below:
- The “Complaint for Divorce” (Form CJ-D 101) is used when one spouse wants a divorce and the other doesn't – this is called a “contested” divorce.
- When both spouses want a divorce claiming irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, then the spouses will file a “Joint Petition for Divorce” ( Form CJ-D 101A).
- When only one spouse wants a divorce, on the basis that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, then that spouse files “Complaint for Divorce” (Form CJ-D 101B).
Along with the divorce petition, the following must be filed with the court:
- Certified copy of civil marriage certificate.
- Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown (must be filed only when the parties file a Joint Petition for Divorce).
- R-408-Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Annulment Statistical Information
- Affidavit of Care and Custody (if parties have child(ren) together).
- Financial Statements – The long form version (CJ-D 301L) must be filed in all cases where money or support is an issue and your annual income is more than $75,000.00. The short form (CJ-D 301S) can be used when .money or support is an issue and your annual income is less than $75,000.00.
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