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How to ask for a child support order in a 209A restraining order case

 

Getting child support as part of a 209A protective order is an important decision. It can help you keep you and your children safe. But only you can decide if you need child support to keep you and your children safe. Only you can decide if it is safe to ask for child support as part of your 209A order.

If you need child support to be included in your 209A protective order, you will need to:

  1. Decide which court you are going to ask for child support as part of the 209A order.
  2. Decide if you want the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division (DOR/CSE) to collect child support for you.
  3. Check Box 7 on page 1 of the Complaint for Protection from Abuse and fill out the extra forms you need.
  4. Know that the judge will probably not order child support at the first hearing. The first hearing is the one where you go to court for an emergency order, and the defendant does not know about the case yet. You will have to come back for a second hearing, the “10-day” or “extension” hearing.
  5. At the second hearing be ready to explain why you need child support
  6. Know what to say if the judge tells you to go to a different court.

How can a 209A child support order help me be safe?

Getting child support in your 209A order can help you and your children be safe because:

  • it will help you take care of your children on your own;
  • it will help pay for things your children may need because of the abuse;
  • it will help get child support sooner than going through a separate child support case;
  • you will not have to deal with the abuser in another child support case;
  • the abuser will not be allowed to contact you about child support;
  • DOR/CSE can collect the child support from the abuser for you -
    • the abuser can pay the child support to the DOR/CSE, or
    • the abuser's employer can take child support from his paycheck and send it to the DOR/CSE; and
  • the abuser does not need to know where you are.

Which court do I go to?

Any court that handles 209A cases can order child support in your 209A restraining order case. District Courts, Boston Municipal Courts, and the Probate and Family Courts handle 209A cases. If you have time to decide about which court to go to, think about:

  • Which court is the safest one for you;
  • Which court is the easiest for you to get to;
  • Probate and Family Courts may ask you for more complicated paperwork; and
  • What to say if the judge at District or Boston Municipal Courts tells you to go to the Probate and Family Court for child support.

What forms do I need?

When you ask for child support with a 209A order, use all the same forms you use for a 209A order plus a few more. The forms you will need are:

  1. Page 1Complaint for Protection from Abuse (G.L. c. 209A),
  2. Page 2 Complaint for Protection from Abuse (G.L. c. 209A) Issues Pertaining to Children,
  3. Plaintiff Confidential Information Form,
  4. Defendant Information Form
  5. Plaintiff's Affidavit in Support of Request for a Child Support Order,
  6. the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet,
  7. andif you file in Probate and Family Court you may need:
    1. Financial Statement,
    2. Motion for Impoundment and Affidavit.

What are these forms for?

Page 1 Complaint for Protection from Abuse (G.L. c. 209A)
Section J of the form starts, “Therefore I ask the court”. Check all the boxes that tell the court what you need. If you need child support, check Box 7. Box 7 tells the judge you are also filing page 2 of the Complaint form. Page 2 is about children.

Page 2 Complaint for Protection from Abuse (G.L. c. 209A)
says "Issues Pertaining to Children" at the top. To ask for child support, check the box in section F. TEMPORARY SUPPORT. Section F is at the bottom of the page. See a sample page 2. The box in part F that asks for temporary support is checked.

Plaintiff's Affidavit in Support of Request for a Child Support Order You are the plaintiff. The abusive person is the defendant.
Use this form to tell the judge information he or she needs to know about your income, the defendant's income and expenses.
This child support affidavit is new in 2012. When you sign it, you are swearing it is the truth.

Plaintiff Confidential Information Form Use this form to give the court personal information like your address and phone number and to keep it safe from the defendant.

Defendant Information Form Use this form to tell the police how to find and identify the abusive person.

Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
Judges must follow rules when they decide how much child support to order. The rules are called the Child Support Guidelines. Judges use the Worksheet to work out how much support the Guidelines say they should order. On the worksheet, the parent who is paying child support is the “payor”. If your child lives with you, and you will be the parent getting child support, you are the "recipient”.  The online Child Support Guidelines Worksheet has a built-in calculator. 

Financial Statement - only if you file in Probate and Family Court.
If you file your 209A restraining order case in the Probate and Family Court, you may have to file a Financial Statement also. See How to Fill Out a Financial Statement. The defendant would also have to file a Financial Statement.

To keep the defendant from learning information that may risk your safety:

  • Do not put your address; telephone number; your employer's name, address, and telephone number on the Financial Statement
  • You may need to keep other information in the Financial Statement confidential also. File a Motion for Impoundment and Affidavit to ask the judge to keep the defendant from seeing the other information.

Learn the basics about 209A protective orders.

See some sample forms already filled out:

What do I do after I fill out the forms?

After you fill out the forms, give them to the clerk.

The Probation Department will run a "check" of the abusive person's criminal history. They will find out if there have been any other protective orders against him. After the probation department runs their "check", the clerk will bring your forms and the information from the Probation Department into the courtroom.

Then you will go to the courtroom for a "hearing." The courtroom is where you talk to the judge.

What will happen in the courtroom?

In the courtroom, you will have an "ex-parte" hearing. “Ex parte” means that you will talk to the judge without the abusive person there. The judge will look at the forms that you filled out and read your statement.

The judge may ask you questions about why you need a 209A protective order. Tell the judge what happened. Talk about the facts that you wrote down in your statement. If you brought police reports, medical records, or pictures about the abuse, show them to the judge.

If there is an advocate with you, the judge may let the advocate talk for you. The judge may ask her questions about your case. Or the judge may let the advocate stand with you, but may want you to do the talking.

The judge will tell you right away if she is going to give you the protective order.

If the judge decides to give you a protective order, she will fill out and sign an Abuse Prevention Order form.

See a Sample Abuse Prevention Order - page 1, page 2.

You will probably not get child support the first time you see a judge. Instead, the Court will schedule a second hearing. This hearing is called a "ten-day"or "extension" hearing.

What happens at the second hearing, the "ten-day"or "extension" hearing?

At the "ten-day"or "extension" hearing, the judge will listen to both sides. Explain why you need the restraining order. Tell the judge exactly why you need everything you have asked for.

Tell the judge why you need child support in your 209A protective order. Some reasons why you might need child support are:

  • You do not have enough money to take care of your children on your own;
  • You need child support right now to be able to look after you children and be safe;
  • The children need support right now;
  • It will take too long to get a child support order in a whole new case;
  • You do not know right now whether you are going to file for a divorce;
  • You feel that it is not safe for you to have to take the defendant to court again for child support;
  • The court where you file separate child support cases, the Probate and Family Court, is too hard to get to;
  • You cannot afford to take time off from work or away from your children to go through another court case for child support.

If the judge agrees to order child support, he or she will look at the court papers and documents to decide how much child support to order. The judge will look at:

  1. your Plaintiff's Affidavit in Support of Request for a Child Support Order,
  2. the Defendant's Affidavit in Connection with Request for Child Support Order, and
  3. the financial records the judge ordered the Defendant to bring to the hearing. These records are listed next to box 13 on the Abuse Prevention Order form.

How can I tell that the judge put child support in the order?

The judge checks off the boxes for child support next to Box 9 in Section A of the Abuse Prevention Order.

How do I get the Department of Revenue to collect the child support?

If you want the Department of Revenue (DOR/CSE) to collect the child support from the defendant's employer and send it to you:

  1. Ask the judge to check the first box in section 9 of the Abuse Prevention Order, the child support part of the restraining order;
  2. Also, you can fill out an Application for DOR Child Support Enforcement Services:
    1. The application has a place for your name and address so that DOR/CSE will know where to send your child support,
    2. Be sure to read the section about Disclosure of Information on page 4 of the application,
    3. In Section 5 of the application you can tell DOR about your restraining order and about your safety concerns, including concerns about giving out your address;
  3. Make copies of each document for your records;
  4. Mail the application and a copy of the court order to:
    Massachusetts Department of Revenue
    Child Support Enforcement Division, P.O Box 7057
    Boston, MA 02204.

What can I do if I go to District Court and the judge tells me to go to the Probate and Family Court for child support?

Some District Court judges think they should not make child support orders. Some judges think that making child support orders is the Probate and Family Court’s job. Some judges will tell you to go to the Probate and Family Court for child support.

To try to stop this from happening to you, remind the judge of the following points, if they apply to you:

  • Guideline 2:07, page 45 and Guideline 6:05B, page 128 of the Abuse Prevention Guidelines both say very clearly that plaintiffs seeking protection in District Court and Boston Municipal Court (this is you) should not be referred to the Probate and Family Court for child support.
  • If you are not married to the defendant, there may not be a reason to file anything in Probate and Family Court.
  • If you are married to the defendant, filing for divorce or separation may not be the best thing for you at this time. The judge may ask you to explain why you are not ready for divorce. Make sure you have an answer to this question.
  • Explain that you and your children will be safer if you can get support ordered now. You will not have to have contact with the abuser for a while. Explain that you do not feel safe facing your abuser on another day in a different court. This is a time of crisis. You need child support ordered now. You need time to think and decide on the next step that is safest for you and your children.
  • Probate and Family Court child support cases take too long. If you have to go the Probate and Family Court it may take too long to get a hearing, and you need the support now.
  • Filing a divorce or support case in Probate and Family Court costs a lot of money, which you do not have.
  • The nearest Probate and Family Court may be too hard to get to.
  • To file for support in the Probate and Family Court you will need to take more time off from work, which you cannot afford to do and still provide for yourself and your children.

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Last updated May 2012


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