Westford Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can be one of life’s most traumatic and challenging experiences. Legally separating yourself from your spouse can involve myriad decisions, details, and arrangements. These can span many aspects of your life, from the financial to the marital home, your parental rights and responsibilities, and more. Getting it right at the outset can save you the time, money, and stress of having to go to court later to modify such issues as child custody and child support

At Ryder & Phelps, P.C., our team of experienced and dedicated family law attorneys gives you the advantage of decades of divorce experience, advanced training in mediation, and time spent working for the courts as Guardians ad Litem and special masters. Guardians ad Litem represent the best interests of children in family court matters. Special masters are those appointed by the court to report the facts of a case after discovering them outside of court. All of this experience has added enormous knowledge and skill that can be used to benefit you in your divorce proceedings

Facing an impending divorce? Discuss your needs with a Westford divorce attorney at Ryder & Phelps, P.C. in an introductory consultation. Send us an email through our contact page or call (978) 381-1660. We serve clients throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Divorce Basics in Massachusetts


Divorce in Massachusetts is governed by Chapter 28 of our General Laws. To achieve a divorce, you must file a petition stating the grounds for your action. Massachusetts provides a no-fault divorce which is based on an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This allows you to proceed without having to prove any marital misconduct. Thus, if you and your spouse can agree on all aspects of the divorce, the process can go much faster as you will not have to appear in court to present your case. 

You can also file for divorce on fault-based grounds which must be proven in court. These include:

  • Abandonment for a year prior to the filing
  • Adultery
  • Impotency
  • Habitual substance abuse
  • Cruelty
  • Refusal to provide support
  • Incarceration for five years or longer

Is Massachusetts a 50/50 Divorce State?

Massachusetts is not a 50/50 or a community property state. Therefore, if the court in MA must decide, all the property, assets, and liabilities are not necessarily divided equally between the two spouses, compared to some states.

Before you can file for divorce, you must meet the state’s residency requirements. These requirements will be impacted by whether the reason for divorce occurred within or outside of the state. If your marriage ended while living in the state, you can file for divorce immediately. If the cause of the divorce occurred outside of the state, you can generally file after having lived in the state for a year. 

How Long Do You Have to Be Separated Before Divorce in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, couples must be separated 90 days before divorce. However, couples filing a joint petition must wait 30 days before the 90-day nisi period begins.

  • “It was a pleasure working with Jordan and the firm” - Megan
  • “10/10 would recommend Ryder and Phelps!” - Paul B.
  • “Highly recommend!” - Jason H.

    Turn to a Proven Team of Divorce Professionals in Westford

    Whether a no-fault or a fault-based divorce, you and your spouse will need to resolve all of the issues involved in your split. These include the division of marital property and debt, child custody and visitation, child support, and spousal support. Spousal support (alimony) is granted or denied at the discretion of the judge. It is not an automatic right.

    You will start the divorce proceedings by filing for divorce. This involves both spouses filing a 1A divorce petition in a no-fault divorce. In a fault-based divorce, it involves a 1B petition followed by serving your spouse with the documentation that allows him or her to respond.

    Our team of divorce lawyers understands the stress of divorce and how it can impact your life and that of your children. We do everything possible to help you resolve even the most complex, high-conflict or high-asset divorce as painlessly as possible, using effective methods, such as mediation.  

    Our goal is to help you transition through the process toward a positive conclusion that puts you in the best possible position to move forward with security. 

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