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Your local District or Boston Municipal Court will deal with 209A cases that include children.

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Created March 2021

Your local Massachusetts courts are the 62 District Courts and the 8 Boston Municipal Courts (BMC).

The 209A Guidelines say these courts must deal with 209A cases that include children.

Sometimes, if you ask your local court for a 209A order that includes your child, the clerk or judge may tell you to go to Probate and Family Court.

The 209A Guidelines say District Court and BMC judges and clerks should not send you to another court. You should expect the court to deal with your 209A complaint for you and your child.

If you need to file a 209A complaint to protect you and your child, your local court should:

  1. Accept your complaint.
  2. Hear your case.
  3. Make a decision.

And they must not send you to the Probate and Family Court.

The Guidelines say courts must not send you to the Probate and Family Court because:

  • It is important to hear your case as soon as possible.
  • They want to make sure you are not discouraged from asking for help.
  • It may be even be even more dangerous if you cannot get to the other court.

“If the court in which a person initially seeks protection under c. 209A has jurisdiction, the person should be heard as soon as possible in that court, and should not be sent to another court. Referring a plaintiff to another court may discourage the person from seeking the relief to which he or she is entitled under the law, and may expose the person to additional danger. This is particularly so where the other court is at some distance and may be inaccessible to the plaintiff.”

See Section 2:07 of the 2021 Guidelines, page 66

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