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How do I prepare for court?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute & MetroWest Legal Services
Reviewed June 2023

How you prepare for court depends on why you are at court. You could be there for a:

Case management conference

  • A meeting to plan when things in the case will happen. You will talk about things like: Will you ask for discovery? Will you file motions? When will the final hearing be? Court staff may ask you to mediate your case with a probation officer. See, What happens at the probation office?

Pre-trial conference

  • A meeting with the Judge to talk about the things you still do not agree with the other parent about. This is a chance to hear what the Judge thinks about your case. You will talk to the Judge about: Why you and the other parent do not agree about the child leaving Massachusetts; If you think you can find an agreement with the other parent; and, Next steps in the case.
  • Before the Pre-trial conference, you will get a letter from the court giving you instructions on how to prepare a Pre-trial memorandum.  Note, each Judge can ask for different things in a pre-trial memorandum.

Motion, Request or Opposition hearing

  • You and the other parent talk to the judge about what was asked for in the motion.
    • Amend your complaint-The judge will decide if you can change your complaint to ask to move with your child.
    • Motion to remove- The judge will decide if you can temporarily move with your child.
  • Bring evidence and witnesses to prove your case. See, How do I prove my case so I can move with my child?

Final Trial

Read your court notice or ask the court clerk what is happening on the day you are going to court. Every time you go to court they may ask you to “talk to probation.” This is dispute resolution or mediation. You do not have to mediate.


Talking to probation is not confidential. Anything you say to the probation officer they can tell the Judge.

To prepare for your case you can

Get ready to prove your case

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