I have wanted to get a divorce for a couple years now, but my spouse will not sign the paperwork. If my spouse refuses to sign the court documents for filing for divorce in Massachusetts, can I still get a divorce without his signature? I feel like I’m trapped in this marriage and can’t get out simply because I can’t get his signature on the documents. There are note children and there is no property to divide, I just want to get out of this marriage, can I do this?
The simple answer to your question is yes. Prior to obtaining a divorce in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts there are some requirements that need to be addressed first.
The first requirement for a divorce in Massachusetts is that of residency. Either one or both of the spouses must be a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts prior to filing for a divorce in Family Court in Massachusetts. The following circumstances outlined the general requirements for residency. If both partners lived within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts during the time the grounds of divorce occurred, then residency requirements are satisfied. If one or both of the spouses lived within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts during the time that the grounds for divorce occurred, even though the grounds may have not occurred within the state of Massachusetts, that satisfies residency requirements. If the spouse filing for divorce lives within Massachusetts and the grounds for divorce occurred within Massachusetts, then you’re good. If the grounds for the divorce did not occur within Massachusetts, then at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state of Massachusetts legally, meaning your drivers license and your personal information was that of a resident of Massachusetts for at least one year prior to filing for divorce, then you satisfy the residency requirement.
The next requirement for divorce in Massachusetts would be that there are grounds for divorce. In Massachusetts we have both no-fault divorce and for divorce. In the case of a no-fault divorce, simply one of the spouses states that there is been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as the reason for the divorce. This simply means that the marriage has failed and nothing is going to fix it.
A fault base divorce, means when one of the spouses states that the other spouse behaved in a way that gives reason in the state of Massachusetts for the grounds of a divorce. The grounds for a fault divorce are basically being either physically or of verbally abused, if you are not supported by that spouse when they have the means to do so. Also if one spouse desserts the other spouse for a year or more that is the grounds for divorce. If one spouse committed adultery against the other spouse that is another grounds for divorce in Massachusetts. If one of the spouses is impotent or unable to have sexual relations with the other spouse, this is another grounds for divorce in Massachusetts. If one of the spouses is a habitual drug use or or is always intoxicated, basically a drug addict or alcoholic, this is another grounds for divorce. Or if one of the spouses is sentenced to a jail term of five years or more, that is also grounds for divorce in Massachusetts.
Basically if you have satisfied the residency requirements for divorce in Massachusetts and you also have sufficient grounds for divorce, as I have outlined above, you may petition the court for divorce without signatures of your spouse. You will have to serve divorce paperwork on your spouse, but a spouse cannot keep you from obtaining a divorce in Massachusetts simply by not signing paperwork.
Joseph F. Botelho, Esq.
BOTELHO LAW GROUP
Attorneys At Law
901 Eastern Ave.
Fall River, MA 02723