In Massachusetts what is the Different in a Divorce Proceeding between a Plaintiff, Defendant or Petitioner?

In Massachusetts the person who files a divorce that is “Contested” is called the “Plaintiff”.  The party who is served the divorce is called a “Defendant” (not to be too confusing, but the Defendant can file not only an Answer but a Counterclaim and, in the Counterclaim, they would be the Plaintiff.

If it is “No Fault Uncontested Divorce”, that is something that is called a “Joint Petition” and both parties are considered co-petitioners.

The Court does not have a significant role whether you are a Plaintiff, Defendant or a Co-Petitioner, but it is helpful to know the terminology.

What is a Venue or what Court do I File a Massachusetts Divorce in?

A Venue means the appropriate local court or local county to file a divorce action.  Divorces are filed in Probate and Family Court.  The appropriate county is where the parties last residence is as husband and wife.  For example: If the parties last lived together in Taunton, then the County would be Bristol County. If neither husband/wife still lives in the county of where their last marital home was, then the divorce can be filed in a County where either party resides.  If the parties last lived together in Taunton, but one party moved to Plymouth County and the other party moved to Norfolk County, it could be filed in either County.

What does the Court Consider Grounds for Divorce?

The Court has different reasons that you can file for divorce. The most common reason is “Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage”; or a “No Fault Divorce”. This means that the communication has broken down where the parties can no longer remain as husband and wife.  It is typical that it is the most common ground.

Massachusetts does have what is considered “Fault Grounds” for divorce under the statute; which includes, adultery, impotency, desertion for at least one year, addictions to drugs or alcohol, refusal to support the spouse when able, cruel and abusive treatment, confinement to a jail for five years or more. Even if there are grounds of adultery or other reasons, most parties file for an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and if they have to get into the conduct of the parties; rather than putting that on the pleadings of the Complaint for the Divorce then that would be brought up during the divorce case.