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Is There Legal Separation in Massachusetts?

It's not easy to talk about "legal" separation because the issue of separation is handled differently depending upon whether you are married or unmarried. And the topic has become even more complicated since the change in Massachusetts divorce law to allow for no-fault divorce.

So while I can provide you with a brief overview of how legal separation is considered under Massachusetts family law, you should consult a lawyer to understand what it means in your specific situation.

I'm Quincy divorce attorney Wilfred C. Driscoll.
Whether you are considering separation as a first step toward divorce or you want a temporary separation while you work on issues in your relationship, it's important to know your rights and responsibilities. Call my Quincy/Hingham family law office at 508-672-8718 or contact me by email to schedule a free initial consultation.

A Quincy Divorce Attorney and a Mediator

As a lawyer, I can draft a separation agreement to define living arrangements, financial obligations and child care and custody during this time. This separation agreement can then form the basis of your later divorce decree if you continue forward in the divorce process.

You can also use my services as a mediator to arrive at these same agreements. (I cannot act both as your mediator and as your divorce attorney.)

Living Separately

I am often asked by clients if they must be living in separate residences in order to prove they have separated. No, you do not. Due to financial hardship, I find as many as 25% of divorcing couples continue to live together in the same house. There are other ways to prove a separation has occurred.

Legal Separation for Never Married Couples

Unmarried couples who separate have the same needs as married couples – to reach agreement on property division, child care and child support [link to alimony/child support]. They may also need to establish paternity. (Paternity is assumed for children born to a married couple).

Despite the similarity, an odd situation has occurred since the introduction of no-fault divorce in Massachusetts. While the parties to a divorce no longer need to prove one or the other person did something terrible, that is not the case with separation.

There is no such thing as no-fault separation. When a never-married couple goes before the judge, they will have to state a reason for the separation. This is most unfortunate because it creates needless conflict and rancor.

Mediation can be particularly useful in this situation. It requires the two parties to work together in good faith to create a mutually acceptable agreement. Regardless of what the court may require, the parties have taken charge of their agreement and conflict is less likely to occur.

Contact the Norfolk County Law Firm of Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr.

Do not be afraid to talk to a Hingham family law lawyer about separation. Getting information does not mean you will be moving forward with a divorce. It does mean you will have accurate information and can make a better decision.

My initial consultation is free and you are under no obligation. Call 508-672-8718 or email the Law Offices of Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr.

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