There are a couple of steps. The first step is that you would file the Complaint for Divorce through the Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts in your County. There are a variety of documentation that you need to do.
The court will give you a Divorce Summons it does cost $5.00 for the Summons. You can then serve the Summons along with the Complaint for Divorce and related paperwork. To serve the documents you would hire a Sheriff or a Constable and give them the paperwork to serve your spouse. After the documents are served on your spouse, you get something called a Return of Service which is confirmation that the Sheriff or Constable had served the spouse. There are exceptions where you can ask your spouse to accept service, and if your spouse is agreeable, you would not have to pay the fees, but a lot of the time it becomes more difficult to have them accept service. They would have to have a notary sign it. This would only be in certain circumstances where you and your spouse can seem to work out at least some of the issues.
You have to file the original Summons and the Affidavit of Notice with the registry and you have to serve your spouse within ninety (90) days from the date that you filed the Complaint for Divorce. There are a couple of exceptions in certain circumstances in terms of service. One, is if your indigent, you can ask the court to waive filing fees, including the Summons. Again, you have to fill out some paperwork to be able to show that your indigent and to be able to have the state pay the Constable or the Sheriff. In addition, if you are not able to locate the spouse there are some ability to have them served by publishing in a local newspaper. Again, there are some complexities with that.
One of the errors that people make is that they either just mail the Summons to their spouse or give it to someone to hand to them rather than following the technical requirements. This can mean a waste of a court date or long delay in the divorce process.
If you hire an attorney, the attorney is the one that would be handling having the service done for your spouse.