Domicile and Residency Requirements to File for Divorce in Massachusetts


The law of the Commonwealth states that a court cannot grant a divorce unless the husband and wife lived in Massachusetts as husband and wife and the cause for divorce occurred within the state.  The law also states that a court cannot grant a divorce for a cause occurring in another state or country unless before the cause occurred, the husband and wife lived together as a married couple within Massachusetts, and at least one of the parties lived in Massachusetts when the cause occurred.

As an example, if Bob and Mary live in Dartmouth, Massachusetts for five years, then move to Connecticut for one year and Bob commits adultery during their time in Connecticut, and then Mary moves back to Massachusetts for the requisite residency period (one year), Mary could petition the court for divorce based on Bob’s adultery.

In short, a divorce action may be commenced immediately if a husband and wife both live in Massachusetts and the cause of the divorce occurred within the state, or if the plaintiff in the divorce case has lived in the state for at least one year if the cause of the divorce occurred elsewhere.  Under both scenarios, both husband and wife had to have lived within the state as a married couple at some time.

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Our firm serves all courts in Suffolk and Bristol County, including the Boston, New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton courthouses.  Through our new Boston office we now proudly serve all residents of Suffolk and Middlesex counties.  We also serve all courts in Plymouth County, including the cities of Marshfield and Brockton.