Do Both People Need to Say Yes to Get a Divorce in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, divorce does not require the agreement of both spouses. While it’s preferable for both parties to consent, one-person divorce filings are allowed. One spouse can initiate the process, even if the other opposes it. However, the process can vary depending on whether it’s uncontested or contested, and seeking legal advice is advisable to navigate the complexities effectively.


Divorce is a life-altering event that can be emotionally and legally complex. If you’re considering divorce in Massachusetts, you might be wondering whether both you and your spouse need to agree on it. I’m here to help you understand the legal process, the role of consent, and how to navigate this challenging terrain.

Uncontested Divorce vs. Contested Divorce

Uncontested divorces are generally smoother and more cost-effective than contested ones. In an uncontested divorce, both parties are on the same page, making it easier to finalize the divorce. This approach often involves less emotional stress and legal fees. However, a contested divorce can be lengthy, emotionally draining, and financially burdensome due to court proceedings and legal representation.

No-Fault Divorce in Massachusetts

Massachusetts follows a “no-fault” divorce system, which means that you don’t need to prove that one party was at fault for the marriage’s breakdown. Instead, you can cite “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” as the reason for divorce. This eliminates the need to assign blame and focuses on moving forward amicably.

Fault-based divorces are also possible here. There are a number of grounds upon which to base this type of divorce such as:

  • abuse,
  • abandonment, and
  • adultery.

Fault-based divorces are rare and usually not worth the effort it takes to prove the underlying grounds.

The Role of Consent in a Massachusetts Divorce

Now, let’s address the key question: do both parties need to say yes to get a divorce in Massachusetts? The answer is no. Massachusetts allows for unilateral divorce filings, meaning one spouse can initiate the process without the other’s consent. However, it’s essential to understand the nuances.

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree to end the marriage, making the process smoother and more straightforward. In contrast, if your spouse opposes the divorce, it becomes contested. This doesn’t necessarily prevent you from getting a divorce, but it may complicate matters, requiring legal intervention and court decisions.

Steps in an Uncontested Divorce

If you and your spouse are in agreement and want to proceed with an uncontested divorce, there are specific steps to follow. First, you’ll need to draft a comprehensive Separation Agreement that outlines how you’ll handle assets, debts, child custody, and support. Once the agreement is in place, you’ll file the necessary paperwork with the court. After a waiting period of 120 days, the court will issue a divorce decree, finalizing the process.

Steps in a Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce, where one party opposes the divorce or there are disputes over important issues, the process becomes more complicated. Mediation may be necessary to resolve conflicts, and court hearings may be required to settle matters. This path can be emotionally and financially draining, so it’s crucial to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through this challenging process.

Affordable Legal Assistance

An affordable divorce is possible. At Afford Law, our fees are based on your income, so the less you earn, the less you pay. Our mission is to provide experienced legal help you can afford.

If you can’t afford our lower rates for a traditional attorney-client relationship, you have another option. Our legal coaching service can save you money and still give you access to a skilled attorney. In this arrangement, you represent yourself in court while we work with you behind the scenes to prepare you every step of the way. This service is available to you for one low monthly fee.


Divorce in Massachusetts doesn’t always require both parties to say yes. While it’s ideal for both spouses to be in agreement, unilateral divorce filings are allowed. However, the process can vary depending on whether your divorce is uncontested or contested. No matter your situation, seeking legal assistance is crucial to protect your rights and interests during this challenging time.

Legal Disclaimer

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult with an attorney to discuss your specific circumstances and receive tailored guidance.

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