What is the difference between legal separation and divorce in Massachusetts?
Spouses can live separately, but there is no “legal separation” status in Massachusetts family law. You are either married or divorced. It is, however, possible to be married, live separately, and receive “separate support” for spousal support or child support. This requires filing a Complaint for Separate Support.
If one of us had an affair, how does that affect the divorce?
Although it can be emotionally painful and it can devastate a relationship, an affair matters very little for the terms of the divorce . The one exception is if a spouse secretly spent thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on an affair. That counts as “marital waste” and can be calculated into the eventual division of marital assets.
I want to get divorced, but my spouse doesn’t. Can my spouse prevent us from getting divorced?
No. Your spouse can, however, refuse to work together on the terms of the divorce. If that happens, you would have to file for divorce and have your spouse served. Unfortunately, this would mean a contested divorce process, which is long and expensive and tends to generate new animosity between you. Faced with that prospect, many spouses eventually cooperate to develop a separation agreement and file an uncontested divorce.
During marriage, we kept our paychecks, bank accounts, and credit cards separate. How does this affect the division of assets and property if we get divorced?
In Massachusetts, all of your assets and debts are considered marital and belong to both of you. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the accounts or credit cards or who paid which bills during the marriage.