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What if I need to change a custody order?

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Created June 2017

If you need to change a custody order, you must show the judge your family’s situation changed in important ways since the order was made. The law calls this kind of change a “significant change of circumstances.”

What if I need to change the custody order right away?

If something happened that puts your child’s health or safety in danger after the court issued a temporary custody order, and you need to change the order right away, you can file a Motion to Modify Temporary Custody Order.

If something happened that puts your child’s health or safety in danger after the court issued a final custody order, and you need to change the order right away, you can file a Complaint for Modification and a Motion to Modify Custody Order.

If you need to change the custody order right away because of domestic violence, you can file a 209A Complaint for Protection from Abuse.

What if I do not need to change the custody order right away?

If you do not need to change the custody order right away, you can file a Complaint for Modification in the Probate and Family Court. If the order is a temporary custody order, you may file a Motion to Modify Temporary Custody Order.

What if the other parent and I agree that we need to change the custody order?

If both parents agree to change the custody order, use special Probate and Family Court forms. See What if both parents want to change a custody order?

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