Difference between a “1A” and a “1B” Divorce
Handling Complicated Situations for Our Clients for 15+ Years
If you are legally married and you want to be divorced from your spouse, you must be legally divorced. In order to be legally divorced, you must obtain a judgment of divorce from the probate and family court in your county. You can do this one of two ways:
An uncontested divorce attorney typically helps parties with their 1A divorce because it is a joint petition. It is only used when there is a full agreement between the parties as to all the outstanding issues of a divorce. “1A” is short for the authorizing statute, M.G.L. c.208, section 1A. In order for the court to allow a “1A” petition, the spouses must agree in writing. This is done in a separation agreement. Separation agreements range in length from 10 to 35 pages. A Joint Petition for Divorce has the spouses as petitioner A and petitioner B. The Petition, and the numerous required documents, are filed with the Court and the matter is assigned for an uncontested Zoom hearing by the Court. At the hearing the judge reviews whether the agreement is fair and reasonable given the parties’ circumstances. If the judge believes that it is, the separation agreement is approved and is either merged into the judgment of divorce or survives and lives as a separate contract in addition to the judgment. The judgment of divorce is not granted on the day of the hearing. Rather, the court issues the judgment of divorce nisi 30 days after the hearing, and becomes final 90 days later.
A contested divorce attorney is best utilized when the underlying issues of a divorce are contested. When that occurs a contested divorce attorney files a “1B” complaint at the local county probate and family court. That means, if you and your spouse disagree as to any issue, (for instance: custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, insurance, how to divide assets and debts) then the divorce is contested and you must file a 1B complaint for divorce. “1B” is short for the authorizing statute, M.G.L. c.208, section 1B. This is different than a 1A petition.
A Complaint for Divorce has the spouses as plaintiff and defendant. It is exclusively a court action requiring judicial involvement. Note that a 1B divorce cannot be granted earlier than six months from date of filing (by the clerk’s office). That said, it is overwhelmingly likely that the parties will negotiate and arrive at a separation agreement. Few 1B cases result in a trial. If the parties arrive at a settlement, the judge will review the separation agreement. If the judge finds that the agreement is fair and reasonable, then the judge it is approved. The terms of the agreement are either merged into the judgment of divorce or survive and live as a separate contract between the parties. Note, the Court enters the judgment nisi on the day of the hearing and becomes final 90 days later.