Friday, October 28, 2011

And It's All Your Fault! MA "Fault" Based Divorce #5: Refusal to Provide Suitable Support

Technically, one can seek a divorce from a spouse by pleading that their husband or wife has "grossly or wantonly and cruelly refuses or neglects to provide suitable support and maintenance." This ground for "fault" divorce has a companion action: an action for separate support. However, a complaint for separate support only deals with support payments, and does not provide for the division of assets and the dissolution of a marriage, as this rarely-used ground for divorce does.

This ground for "fault"-based divorced is rarely used for a few reasons. First, there is no advantage gained when compared to a "no fault" divorce. Second, proving that your spouse has either grossly or wantonly and cruelly not provided suitable support is a very difficult. Simply putting one spouse on a very limited allowance or refusing to allow access to bank or credit card statements doesn't meet this evidentiary burden. You also have to prove that the spouse who has allegedly refused or neglected to provide suitable support actually has "sufficient ability" to provide support. This needs to be an intentional (and I would argue complete) economic abandonment.

When dealing with alimony and the division of property, any divorce action claiming that one spouse has grossly or wantonly and cruelly refused to provide suitable support and maintenance, or one filed on "no fault" grounds but with identical facts, will likely have a motion for temporary orders filed soon after the complaint seeking temporary alimony payments.

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