Contact Us for a Free Consultation 781.279.1822

Divorce Overview in Massachusetts

Filing a Divorce Case with the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court

1. Rule 411 Automatic Restraining Order:

Upon the filing of a divorce case in Massachusetts, Rule 411 Automatic Restraining Order automatically goes into effect. This rule imposes certain restrictions on both parties to prevent unilateral actions that could negatively impact the divorce proceedings or the marital estate. Under Rule 411, neither party can:

  • Sell, transfer, or encumber marital assets, except for customary and usual expenses and for reasonable attorney fees in connection with the divorce proceedings.
  • Borrow against, pledge, or in any way encumber any assets, including but not limited to joint bank accounts or retirement accounts.
  • Change or modify beneficiaries on any existing insurance policies or retirement accounts.
  • Remove the other party or the children from any existing health insurance coverage.

These restrictions help maintain the status quo and ensure that neither party gains an unfair advantage during the divorce process.

2. Massachusetts Supplemental Rule 410:

As per Massachusetts Rule 410, both parties involved in a divorce, 209C action, or complaint for separate support are required to furnish several documents to the other party within 45 days of receiving the summons. These documents encompass:

  1. Income tax returns and accompanying materials (e.g., W2s, 1099s, K-1s, etc.) for the preceding three years.

  2. The four most recent pay stubs.

  3. Documentation detailing the cost and nature of accessible health insurance coverage.

  4. Statements from bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, and any other relevant financial accounts for the previous three years.

  5. Copies of any loan or mortgage applications submitted within the past three years.

  6. Copies of any financial statements and/or statements of assets and liabilities prepared within the previous three years.

Compliance with Rule 410 ensures transparency and facilitates the equitable resolution of financial matters during divorce proceedings or actions related to separate support


3. Motion for Temporary Orders:

A Motion for Temporary Orders is a formal request submitted to the court seeking temporary relief while the divorce case is pending. This motion typically includes specific requests regarding child custody, visitation schedules, child support, spousal support, and the use of marital assets. The court will schedule a hearing to consider the motion and make temporary orders based on the best interests of the parties involved and any children affected.

4. Motions:

Throughout the divorce process, either party may file various motions addressing different aspects of the case. These motions could relate to discovery requests, evidentiary issues, modifications of existing orders, or other procedural matters. Each motion is accompanied by a memorandum of law explaining the legal basis for the request.

5. Pretrial Conferences:

Pretrial conferences are meetings scheduled by the court to facilitate communication between the parties and streamline the resolution of contested issues. During these conferences, the parties, along with their attorneys, meet with a judge to discuss the status of the case, explore potential settlements, identify disputed issues, and establish a timeline for trial preparation. Pretrial conferences aim to promote efficiency, encourage settlement negotiations, and prepare the case for trial if necessary.


Navigating the divorce process can be complex and emotionally challenging. Understanding the procedures involved, including Rule 411 Automatic Restraining Order, Massachusetts Supplemental Rule 410, Motion for Temporary Orders, Motions, and Pretrial Conferences, is essential for effectively advocating for your rights and interests. As a divorce lawyer, I am committed to guiding you through each step of the process, providing personalized legal representation, and pursuing the best possible outcome for your case. If you have any questions or concerns about filing for divorce in Massachusetts, please don't hesitate to contact me for a consultation