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I need to change a temporary or final custody order right away because of domestic violence

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Created June 2017

If you need to change 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 the court to change the custody order.

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


  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

Where to file?

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


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

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

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