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Is an uncontested divorce the same as a no-fault divorce?

On Behalf of | May 24, 2024 | Divorce |

When you consider filing for divorce, you might come across the terms “uncontested divorce” and “no-fault divorce.” These words are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. An uncontested divorce means both spouses agree on the terms of ending their marriage. A no-fault divorce has a different legal meaning, although these types of divorce can overlap.

The difference

In a no-fault divorce, neither spouse must prove that someone was to blame for the divorce. Instead, you simply state that your marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown,” meaning there is no hope of fixing it. Massachusetts allows for what is known as a contested no-fault divorce (“1B” divorce). A no-fault divorce can be a contested divorce when spouses agree to the divorce, but they cannot agree on the following matters:

  • Division of property and debts
  • Child custody and parenting time
  • Child support
  • Alimony

Uncontested and no-fault divorces in Massachusetts can overlap in the sense that both can occur without the need for a contentious court battle.

The overlap

The key overlap is the agreement between spouses. In both uncontested and no-fault divorces, you and your spouse may reach a mutual agreement on all terms. This means that while you are not assigning blame for the divorce (no-fault), you are also in accord about the details of property division, child custody and other relevant matters (uncontested).

When you file a joint petition for a no-fault divorce (also known as a “1A” divorce in Massachusetts), you are essentially entering into an uncontested no-fault divorce. You both agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and you have settled all your divorce-related issues.

In both cases, there is no dispute for the court to resolve. The divorce can proceed more quickly, and it will also be less costly. However, that does not mean you should agree to whatever your spouse wants. You still need an experienced divorce attorney to represent your best interest throughout the proceedings.