If you are not married to the parent of the minor child, AND PATERNITY HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED, then here are the papers you will need to file for custody, support and visitation. If you are not sure whether Paternity has been established, please go to Paternity and read the IMPORTANT information. (Click here for a quick link to read Important Information about Paternity)
All forms that are linked below can be filled out by the applicant on-line. However, the applicant still needs to print out the form, sign it and then submit it to Plymouth County Probate and Family Court either by mail or in person.
A helpful guide for parents living apart has been prepared by The Massachusetts Association of Family and Conciliation Courts with the support of the Honorable Sean M. Dunphy, Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court. (Click here)
Here you will find:
What to file:
- Filing fee $120.00 Payable to “Plymouth Probate Court”. Bank check or money order is required. No personal checks are accepted.)
- Complaint for Support/Custody/Visitation – (Click for form). You MUST file one complaint for each child.
- Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody of a child, you MUST file this form.
- Birth certificate of each child. You must go to the city or town hall where the child was born to get this.
- Public Assistance Affidavit (Click for form) File one form for each child
- Adjudication. This is the Court Order establishing paternity.
- Financial Statements must be completed by both parties. If the annual income of either party is less than $75,000, click here for the short form financial statement, which must be printed on pink paper. If the annual income of either party is more than $75,000, click here for the long form financial statement, which must be printed on pink paper.
Where to file:
All papers above should be filed:
By mail to:
Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
ATTN: Paternity Department
52 Obery Street, Suite 1130
Plymouth, MA 02360
In person at:
|Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
52 Obery Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
|or||Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
215 Main Street
Brockton, MA 02301
What to Expect after you file:
After you file your Complaint for Support, Custody, Visitation, and related documents with the Court, they must be processed. Processing your Complaint and other papers means that your case needs to be indexed, assigned a docket number, file stamped and docketed into the official court docket. The Court creates a separate file for each child, a fact which requires the filing by you of separate documents for each child.
The Court then issues a Summons to you. Once you receive this summons, you MUST take it or mail it to the Sheriff’s Department of the County in which the Defendant lives. A Constable who is authorized to serve civil process in a designated city or town may also be utilized. The Sheriff or Constable will “make service”. This means that the Sheriff or Constable will bring a copy of the Complaint and other papers to the Defendant. The Sheriff’s Department or Constable will then send you the Original Summons with the back part of the summons filled out, stating that either service was made or that the Sheriff or Constable was unable to make service. This is called a “return of service”. This original Summons will need to be filed with the Court. This will prove to the Court that service has been made.
Once you file the original summons, including the “return of service”, with the court, you will be able to file for a court hearing:
- By a motion, in order to receive a temporary order on matters of support, custody, visitation, or other matters which the court might deem just, (Click here for Motion)
- The Court will automatically assign the case for a Pre-Trial Conference. NOTE: Although the Court automatically assigns a Pre-Trial Conference, either party may file and schedule a motion for a Judge’s regular motion session before the scheduled Pre-Trial Conference takes place.
- If the matter is not resolved at the Pre-Trial Conference, then it will be assigned a trial date.
Always remember that if there is more than one child, you MUST file any motions or other pleadings for each child.
In any hearing or trial to determine child support, the parties must prepare and present to the Judge, at the hearing or trial, a Child Support guidelines Worksheet (Print on light blue paper.) Click the following quick links for the worksheet and other information regarding child support: