Modification of Judgment as to Child Care or Custody Complaint

This is what you would file if the circumstances of the parties has changed so substantially and materially that modification of judgment is warranted. This normally applies to matters of child support, custody and visitation. Usually modifications are filed with respect to divorce judgments and paternity judgments but they may also be applicable to other limited judgments. You may wish to seek legal advice with respect to such matters.

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 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     Where to File     What happens after you file


What to file:

  • Filing fee of $155.00, ( which includes summons) payable to Plymouth Probate and Family Court. Check or money order is required. No personal checks are accepted. (A filing fee of $55.00 is required if the requested modification pertains to the child support, custody and visitation. A modification relative to all non child related issues is $155.00)
  • Complaint for Modification (click for form)
  • Domestic Relations Summons – this will be provided to you AFTER you file your Complaint for Modification. The Court will send you this form.
  • Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody of a child. If there are any minor children involved and the modification involves matters of custody, you must file this form.(click for form)
  • Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody of a child – Page 2 – (Click for Form)
  • A Financial Statement must be completed. If your annual income is less than $75,000, a short form Financial Statement is required.  (Click here for form Print on pink paper.) If your annual income is more than $75,000, a Long form Financial Statement is required. (Click here for form Print on purple paper.)

Where to file:

For Domestic Relations Matters

By mail to: Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
ATTN: Domestic Relations 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, Suite 220
Brockton, MA 02301

 

For Paternity matters

By mail to: Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
ATTN: Paternity Department
215 Main Street, Suite 220
Brockton, MA 02301
In person at: Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
215 Main Street, Suite 220
Brockton, MA 02301
or
Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
52 Obery Street
Plymouth, MA 02360

What to Expect after you file:

**JANUARY 2020 UPDATE** PATHWAYS PILOT PROJECT: Plymouth County has been selected to be the first Probate & Family Court in Massachusetts to participate in a family justice reform initiative to triage Complaints for Modification.

After you file the above modification papers with the court, they must be processed. Processing your Complaint for Modification and other papers means that your case needs to be docketed in the official court docket and money needs to be documented and forwarded into the State’s Account, if applicable.

The Court then issues a summons to you. Once you receive this summons, you must take it or mail it with a copy of the Complaint for Modification 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 for Modification, Domestic Relations Summons and any other papers to the Defendant. The Sheriff’s Department or Constable will then send you the original Domestic Relations 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 Domestic Relations Summons will need to be filed with the Court. This will prove to the court that service has been made.

Once you file original summons, including the “return of service”, with the Court:

  • The Court will automatically review the complaint for accuracy and completeness, then undergo a substantive review to determine which triage “Pathway” the complaint will be assigned.
  • The Court will contact the parties and/or counsel to assist in resolving your case and reaching an agreement, if possible. (At any time during this process, if an agreement is reached, the parties may contact the court to have an agreement allowed administratively or presented at an expedited uncontested hearing.)
  • If your case is assigned to Pathway 1, you have limited issues that are easily identifiable and the Court will schedule a Case Management Conference, that may even be held virtually by telephone.
  • If no agreement is reached, the matter will be scheduled for Dispute Intervention with the Probation Department or for a Pre-Trial Conference with the Judge.
  • If the matter is not resolved at the Pre-Trial Conference, then it will be assigned at trial date.
  • If your case is assigned to Pathway 2, it is quite likely that your case would benefit from involvement ranging from Probation to Alternative Dispute Resolution Services to assist with coming to an agreement before trial.
  • The Court will schedule a Case Management Conference, that may even be held virtually by telephone.
  • If no agreement is reached, a referral of services will be made and a Case Management Conference will be scheduled approximately 30-45 days out to gauge how dispute resolution is progressing.
  • If an agreement is not presented at the CMC, the matter will be scheduled for a Pre-Trial Conference with the Judge, with all uncontested facts and contested issues outlined.
  • If your case is assigned to Pathway 3, it is likely that there are several issues and judicial involvement will be needed to address the complex, adversarial nature of the case.
  • The Court will hold a Case Management Conference, possibly by telephone, to determine whether Alternative Dispute Resolution, the Appointment of a Guardian ad Litem, or other professionals or agencies may be necessary or useful in resolving differences.
  • A Case Management Conference, possibly by phone, will be held 30 to 45 days later to gauge how ADR is progressing and to determine the status of issues.
  • If an agreement is not presented at the CMC, the matter will be scheduled for a Pre-Trial Conference with the Judge, with all uncontested facts and contested issues outlined.
  • After the Judge issues a Judgment of Modification, the court will mail an attested copy of the Judgment of Modification to the parties.

AND, if you wish, you will be able to file for a hearing with the Court:

  • 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)

REMINDER:

IF CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED and the modification involves matters of custody, a child custody disclosure statement must be filed or the Complaint for Modification will not be accepted for filing.

In any hearing on trial to determine child support, the parties must prepare and present to the judge at the hearing or trial, a child support guidelines worksheet Click the following quick links for the worksheet and other information regarding child support:

Child support guidelines Information