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I do not need to change the custody order right away

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed February 2022

If you need to change a final custody order because of significant changes in circumstances, file:

  • a Complaint for Modification, and
  • an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding.

Read Tanya and Thomas’ story to see why they need to file a Complaint for Modification

In Tanya and Thomas’ situation:

  • the parents are divorced,
  • the divorce judgment orders shared physical custody, but
  • one parent moved away.

Tanya and Thomas have a child named Omar. He is 8 years old. Tanya and Thomas got divorced a year ago. At the time of the divorce, Tanya and Thomas lived just a few miles from each other in Boston. Their divorce judgment said they had shared physical custody of Omar. They agreed to shared physical custody. Omar would go back and forth between his parents’ homes frequently. He had a bedroom in each, as well as clothes, toys, and books.

Thomas has just remarried and moved to Albany, New York. Shared physical custody no longer makes sense for Omar. Each parent wants Omar to live with them and the other parent to have appropriate parenting time.

Tanya files a Complaint for Modification that asks for sole physical custody. She must also file the Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding. This form tells the court if there are already any court orders about your child. It also tells the court if any judge is making decisions about your child now.

Thomas files an Answer to Complaint for Modification and Counterclaim. In his Answer, he asks for sole physical custody and permission to take Omar to Albany to live with him. He must also file his own Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding.

Get the forms you need

Learn about filing the Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding before you fill out the form.

File the Complaint for Modification in the same court that made the original order.

If you need to file an Answer to a Complaint for Modification, there is no official court answer form. Use Thomas’ sample as a guide to write your own. Read Answering a Complaint in Probate and Family Court for more information.

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