What can I do if I need a court order right away?

If you need to get a custody order right away, because of domestic violence, file a 209A Complaint for Protection from Abuse and ask for custody in the complaint. See Need a custody order right away because of domestic violence.

If you need to get custody right away for your child’s wellbeing and happiness, file:

  • a Complaint for Custody-Support-Parenting Time (Ch. 209C),
  • an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding,
  • a motion,
  • an affidavit in support of the motion, and
  • a proposed order.

Read Anna and Arthur’s story to see why someone might need a custody order right away.

Anna and Arthur

  • the parents are not in an ongoing case,
  • Arthur and Anna signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage saying that Arthur is the father of their child Belle
  • there is no custody order, and
  • Anna needs a custody order.

Arthur and Anna are not married. They have a 10 year old daughter, Belle. Arthur and Anna signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage, so Arthur is Belle’s legal father. But Anna has sole legal and physical custody of Belle because:

  • she was never married to Arthur and
  • there is no court order.

Anna needs a custody order right away because Arthur cannot take care of Belle now and he will not agree to change their parenting plan:

Belle lives with Anna, but she spends a lot of time at Arthur’s house.

Arthur and Anna have an informal schedule. Arthur has parenting time with Belle, including overnights and taking Belle to school.

Arthur and Anna made these arrangements to fit their work schedules.

Recently, Arthur is so depressed he cannot get up and go to work or take Belle to school. Anna has to go over to Arthur’s house to get Belle and take her to school. Sometimes he does not pick Belle up from school and Anna has to leave work to get Belle.. Anna and Belle cannot count on Arthur. Belle is having trouble sleeping, eating, and at school.

Anna told Arthur she needs to have sole legal and physical custody of Belle, and that they need to have a written schedule for parenting time. Arthur disagreed. He says he wants to keep things the way they are.

Anna needs to make Belle’s life more stable. She is going to change her work schedule.  She feels she needs to ask the court to give her sole legal and physical custody right away.

Anna files a Complaint for Custody-Support-Parenting Time (Ch. 209C) to ask for sole legal and physical custody. She must also file an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding.

Since she needs the court order right away and the  case may take a long time, she is going to file a Motion for Temporary Custody.

She would also file a Proposed Order and an Affidavit in Support of Motion for Temporary Custody.

Get the forms you need:

I need a custody order right away because of domestic violence

If you need a custody order immediately because of domestic violence, you can file a 209A Complaint for Protection from Abuse.

Use pages 1 and 2 of the complaint, to ask for custody of your children.

When you fill out the 209A Complaint to ask for custody, write on the Affidavit why you need a custody order to keep your children safe.

On the AFFIDAVIT:

  1. Tell the judge what happened and why you need a 209A order.
  2. Write down exactly what happened. Do the best you can. Write down the things he said or did like, "He told me he would get his gun and shoot me."
  3. Start with the most recent incident.
  4. Include information about injuries, if children were present or hurt, police involvement, medical treatment, other help you got, or destruction of property.

See Writing your 209A Affidavit

See Asking for 209A restraining order forms if you have children under 18.

Where do I file?

You can file a 209A in a Probate and Family Court, a District Court, or a Boston Municipal Court.

Important

Some District Court and Boston Municipal Court judges and clerks may tell you to go to Probate and Family Court to get a 209A protective order when children are involved. The 209A Guidelines say District Court and BMC judges and clerks should not send you to another court.1 You have the right to get a 209A order from a District Court or Boston Municipal Court to protect your children.

Read about not being sent to the Probate and Family Court if your case involves children.

Read about filing in a District Court or a Boston Municipal Court (BMC) if there already is a custody order from a Probate and Family Court.

Endnotes

1 . See Page 45 of the Guidelines for Judicial Practice: Abuse Prevention Proceedings (2011)See Page 45 of the Guidelines for Judicial Practice: Abuse Prevention Proceedings (2011).

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Last Updated May 2017

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