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I need to change the custody order right away

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Created June 2017

If you need to change a custody order right away, you must show the judge that your child’s health or safety is in danger. And this happened after the court issued the order you need to change.

If you need to change 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 to change a custody order right away because of domestic violence.

New concerns about my child’s health or safety

Custody orders are either temporary or final. Final orders are also called judgments.

If the court issued a final custody order

  • and then something happened that puts your child’s health or safety in danger
  • so you need to change the order right away,

you can file a Complaint for Modification and a Motion to Modify Custody Order.

If the court issued a temporary custody order

  • and then something happened that puts your child’s health or safety in danger
  • so you need to change the order right away,

you can file a Motion to Modify Temporary Custody Order. You do not need to file a Complaint for Modification.

Carla’s story

Carla thinks her child is no longer safe when he is with his father. She needs to change a final order. But if you need to change a temporary order, you can sstill use her motion, affidavit, and proposed order as examples.

In Carla’s situation

  • there is no domestic violence,
  • the parents are divorced,
  • the divorce judgment is a final order that says they have shared legal and physical custody, and
  • her ex-husband’s behavior alarms her about their child’s health and safety.

Carla and Charles are divorced. They have a 5 year old son, Hector. Their divorce judgment says they have shared legal and physical custody.Hector spends 3 days a week with his father and 4 days a week with his mother.

Charles lost his job and started drinking a lot. At a recent meeting with Hector’s kindergarten teacher, Charles arrived drunk and was loud and hostile to both Carla and the teacher.

The teacher was trying to tell Hector’s parents that Hector was getting aggressive at school. And he threw a block at one of the other children.

Charles stormed out of the meeting. When he left, he rear-ended another parent’s car in the school parking lot and drove away. A few hours later he was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident.

Carla needs sole legal and physical custody. And she needs Charles’ time with Hector to be supervised.

Carla files

Get the forms you need

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

If you need to change a temporary custody order right away because of new concerns about your child’s health or safety, file:

You can use Carla’s motion, affidavit in support of her motion, and proposed order as examples.

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