Section 30: Sale or conveyance; notice to opposing absent spouse; jurisdiction of court; proof of abandonment; retransfer to opposing absent party
Section 30. After the filing of a libel for divorce, or for nullity of marriage or of a petition for separate support or maintenance, and during the pendency thereof, or upon the filing of a separate petition, a probate court may upon motion of a person whose spouse has abandoned him or her and thereby left the abandoned spouse and his or her dependents without sufficient means to maintain themselves may, after giving the respondent spouse notice and an opportunity to be heard, authorize the moving party to sell, convey, mortgage, receive or receipt for any real or personal property of the opposing party which remains in the commonwealth undisposed of by him or her, any property in the name of the opposing party which is beneficially owned by the moving party or by the moving party's minor dependents and any property within the commonwealth held by both spouses jointly, as tenants by the entirety or as tenants in common, and to use and dispose of the same or the proceeds thereof during the absence of the opposing party as if the moving party were sole. Such petition may be filed, heard and determined in the probate court for the county in which the moving party resides. The opposing party shall be given notice as provided for divorce libels when the libelee cannot be located within the commonwealth. Such petition may be filed to satisfy, in whole or in part, an outstanding support order, or to provide for the future support and maintenance of the moving party and his or her dependents. The court shall have jurisdiction in rem of the aforementioned property to enforce an order for support and maintenance. Upon approval of the petition, the court shall transfer to the moving party or shall authorize him or her to sell, convey, mortgage or otherwise use or control such property as is needed for the present and future support and maintenance of, or for use by, the moving party and his or her dependents, including but not limited to residences, motor vehicles and furniture and furnishings. Any deed or mortgage given pursuant to this section shall first be approved by the court and such approval shall constitute conclusive evidence in favor of any purchaser that the authority of the grantor has not terminated.
For the purposes of this section, abandonment shall mean that the opposing party has left the moving party and does not intend to return. Proof that the moving party has not known the whereabouts of the opposing party for the previous twelve months shall constitute prima facie evidence of abandonment. The court may, upon petition of the opposing party, retransfer to him or her so much of the transferred property or the proceeds thereof as remains in the hands of the moving party to which the opposing party may be entitled when such petition is filed.