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Filing a Complaint for Custody-Support-Parenting Time

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed July 2023

If you are not married to your child’s other parent and your child has a legal father, use this form to ask the court for:

  • custody,
  • child support, or
  • parenting time.

The form has a box you can check for each request.Form screenshot of text: 7. Wherefore, plaintiff requests that the Court: Order a suitable amount of support for the child. Order the plaintiff or defendant to maintain or provide health insurance for the benefit of the child. Prohibit the defendant from imposing any restraint on the personal liberty of the plaintiff and/or the child. Grant the plaintiff or defendant custody of the child. Grant the plaintiff or defendant parenting time with the child. Blank line.

Where do I file a Complaint for Custody-Support-Parenting Time?

File a Complaint for Custody-Support-Parenting Time in the Probate and Family Court for the county where your child and one of the parents live.

If neither parent lives in the same county as your child, file the complaint in the county where your child lives.

But if you and the other parent have been to court before about your child and the case has not been dismissed, you can file in that court. Find the Probate and Family Court in the right county.

How much does it cost?

  • $115.00 is the filing fee.
  • $5.00 for the Summons.
  • About $30 to pay the deputy sheriff or constable serve the papers. It may cost more if the deputy sheriff or constable has to go very far to serve the papers.

If you cannot afford these fees and costs you can ask the state to pay them using an Affidavit of Indigency form.

What forms do I need?

If you file a Motion, you will also need to file an Affidavit in support of your motion and a Proposed Order. See a sample Affidavit and Proposed Order.

You can get these forms in the clerk's office of any Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts. You can also get the forms on the Probate and Family Court’s website. The forms are free.

What else do I need to file?

You will need to file a copy of either

  • a signed voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or
  • a court judgment saying who the father is.


Some courts have people who can help you fill out the forms. Ask the clerk at the courthouse if your court has anyone to help you.

  • Fill out the forms and give them to the clerk. The clerk will stamp each form with the date. You have "filed your case."
  • After the clerk stamps the forms with the date, ask for 2 copies of everything. 1 copy is for you. The other copy is to "serve." The clerk may say you need to pay for the copies or make the copies yourself. There will be a way to do this at the courthouse.

What do I do next?

The next thing you must do is serve the Domestic Relations Summons that the clerk gives you.

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