Massachusetts Divorce Timeline

Uncontested Divorce Contested Divorce When You May Request Hearing Waiting Time for Hearing after Request (est.)* Waiting Time by Law from Hearing until Final Divorce Total Time from Filing until Final Divorce (approx.)
Fault Divorce Immediately 4 – 8 weeks 90 days 4 – 5 months
No-Fault Divorce Immediately 4 – 8 weeks 120 days 5 – 6 months
Fault Divorce 20 days after serving papers 4 – 9 months 90 days after temporary judgment 8 months or more
No-Fault Divorce 6 months after filing and serving papers 4 – 9 months 90 days after temporary judgment 13 – 18 months or more

 

*The timeline offers a simple overview without taking into account all of the variations from courthouse to courthouse. Call the county courthouse where you file papers to confirm waiting periods for hearing dates.  See courthouse contact information http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/trial-court/pfc/pfc-ch-by-county-gen.html.

Also when a divorce case goes to trial, the judge is supposed to issue a temporary judgment (judgment of divorce nisi) no more than 30 days after one day of trial.  That means, for instance, a judge has up to 90 days to issue a judgment after a three day trial.  Often judges do not have three consecutive days on their calendars.  Instead, the trial takes place on non-consecutive days over weeks or months.   Of course these scheduling issues add considerable waiting time for a final judgment of divorce.  This is important for many reasons, starting with the prohibition against remarriage until the judgment is final.


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