Filing For Separation Massachusetts

Written by Lori Covington
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Are you thinking of filing for separation? Massachusetts law does not recognize "legal separation" the way other states may, but it does provide for married people who wish to live apart without divorcing. People often choose to separate rather than divorce because they want time apart to think about whether to continue the marriage, for religious reasons, or because of the impact divorce would have on the children.

If you consider filing for separation, Massachusetts allows you and your spouse to complete a separation agreement, stating your decision to live apart. This agreement (which can be used if you decide to divorce) covers issues of child custody and visitation, division of property and debts, and any name changes or orders of protection. Both spouses must sign the agreement: if a judge believes a separation agreement was signed under duress or is unfair, he or she can refuse to permit it.

Filing for Separation, Massachusetts Laws and Mediation

You may write your own separation agreement, but once you sign it, you have agreed to its terms and your spouse can use the agreement in case of divorce. A better plan is to consult a professional mediator who specializes in divorce and separation. A mediator will work with both spouses to clarify your needs and expectations, resulting in an agreement that satisfies you both. A mediator can also help with necessary paperwork in filing for separation: Massachusetts separation agreements must be filed with the court in order to be considered valid.

A mediator is familiar with the laws surrounding divorce and issues of separation, and can guide you to decisions that are fair and reasonable for both people. In cases where children are involved, mediators can also help parents focus on doing what is best for the children when drawing up separation agreements. Mediation encourages honest communication and respect for both spouses in the separation process.

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