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What County do I File my Divorce in?

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In Massachusetts, the county that you file your Joint Petition for Divorce or your Complaint for Divorce in is controlled by M.G.L. c. 208 s 6.

Assuming that Massachusetts has jurisdiction to hear your case (which we explain in this previous post), you should file in the probate court in the county where either you or your spouse lives, unless one of you still resides in the county where you last lived together, in which case you should file in that county.

To figure out how that standard applies in your case, answer these questions to figure out where you should file:

Question 1:  Do you or your spouse still live in the county where you last lived together?  If Yes, then file in that county.  If no, then continue to Question 2.

Question 2:  Do you both live in Massachusetts?  If Yes, then you can file in either the county where you live, or the county where your spouse lives.  If no, then continue to Question 3.

Question 3:  Does one of you live in Massachusetts?  If Yes, then you can file in the county in Massachusetts where one of you lives.  If No, then you should file in the county that you last lived together in Massachusetts.

If you never lived together in Massachusetts and neither of you lives in Massachusetts now, then review our previous post on jurisdiction because there is a good chance, you cannot file in Massachusetts.

There are Two Exceptions to the above described rules:

Exception 1:  In the event of hardship or inconvenience to either party, the court having jurisdiction may transfer such action for hearing to a court in a county in which such party resides.

Exception 2:  In cases where this is a potential conflict of interest, the court having jurisdiction may transfer the action to another county.  For example, if a court employee is getting divorced it would not be fair to them or their spouse to have the case heard in the court where the employee works.


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