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Legal Information: Massachusetts


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Laws current as of December 14, 2023

If a custody order is already in place, can I get it changed?

You can file to have your current custody order changed (modified) if:

  • there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the order was issued; and
  • changing the order will be in the best interests of the child.1

There are many reasons why a parent may file to have an order modified. Some examples of situations where a parent might file to have an order changed are:

  • one parent wants to relocate to a new state or county that is far away;
  • visitation arrangements are no longer working; or
  • the parent who has custody is not meeting the child’s needs.

Generally, you will file a complaint for modification at the probate and family court that issued your original custody order. The hearing may be similar to previous custody hearings, but you will have to prove a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred.2

1 M.G.L. 208 § 28
2Family Law Advocacy for Low and Moderate Income Litigants: Child Custody: Chapter 16 Modifications, 3rd Edition (2018)