Legal Information: Massachusetts

Custody

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Updated: 
October 24, 2018

Step 3: Appear in front of the judge.

After the complaint is filed, your case will be assigned to a particular judge.  All of your court dates will generally be scheduled with your assigned judge.

If you filed a motion for temporary orders, the court will set a date for a temporary order hearing.  The temporary order you receive will stay in place until another order replaces it.  It may be replaced by another temporary order, or by the judgment you receive after your final hearing.  Before this hearing, you may be asked to meet with a probation officer or a motion mediator.  The mediator will try to help you and the other parent come to a temporary agreement.  If you do reach an agreement, the judge will review it and then it will become a court order, unless the court finds that the agreement will not be in the best interests of the child. 

Note: You are not required to reach an agreement with the other parent, and the probation officer and/or motion mediator have no authority to make an order that you do not agree with.  Also, if you are afraid of the other parent, or if you are seeking (or have) a 209A abuse prevention order (a restraining order) against the other parent, you do not have to meet with the mediator in the same room as the other parent.

Again, it is best to talk to a lawyer before starting this process, or at the very least have a lawyer look over your papers before you file them, so you can make sure you are not making any mistakes. For more information, go to MA Finding a Lawyer.