Legal Information: Massachusetts


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December 9, 2022

Step 1: File the custody complaint (petition) in court.

To get a custody order from court, you will need to start by filing a “complaint” in the Probate and Family Court in your county, or perhaps the county where your child is living, if that is different. You can download the form from the Massachusetts Courts System website. For a list of courthouses in Massachusetts, go to our MA Courthouse Locations page

On the complaint, you will be asked to provide your address. If you do not want the other parent to know your address because you fear harm, you can ask to have your address kept confidential. Ask the court clerk how to do this.

If you need immediate temporary custody, visitation, or child support, you will need to file a motion for temporary custody, visitation or support. Be sure to tell the clerk if this is what you want to do. Generally, you can do this at the same time you file your complaint.

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