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Deciding to separate or get a divorce

Produced by an AmeriCorps Project of Western Massachusetts Legal Services, updated and revised Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed July 2023

Should I go to court?

Every case is different. There are a lot of things to think about before you decide to go to court.

You should gather information, get legal advice, and talk it over with people you trust. Only you know what is best for you.

Remember this:

When you go to court is not always up to you. Your spouse can file for divorce or separate support, too.

If you have children, your relationship with your spouse does not end when you separate or divorce. You will probably have to keep talking to your spouse about support, parenting time or visitation, and other parenting questions. You will not have to keep talking to them if you have a 209A protective order that says “no contact.”


Going through separation or getting a divorce can be very hard emotionally. Counseling can help you through the process. Your doctor can refer you to a counselor or therapist, or you can ask at your local health center or look online.

Counseling can help couples figure out how to deal with divorce or separation.

Most domestic violence advocates say it is a bad idea to go to counseling with the person who abused you if you are trying to separate from that person.

Who to call for help

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

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