Massachusetts Family Court
Massachusetts Family Court
The Family Court System in Massachusetts is support by a number of Court Houses where Divorce and Family Court Matters are heard and Judgements granted.
If your Divorce, Child Support or Family Court matter could not be decided between yourselves, you will need to attend the Family Court to have your case decided by the Judge.
The Court you will attend will be determined by where you live and where the Family Court application was lodged. Sometimes where parties are living in different areas of Massachusetts, you will attend the Court in a different district to where you live it will be determined by which Court your documents were lodge or submitted to.
How many Family Courts are there in Massachusetts
There are a number of Courts that can be utilized to make Family Court decisions. Most decisions are made by District Courts. We have a full list of Family Courts in Massachusetts below.
How do I find my Massachusetts Family Court
Simply search below. We have the full list of every Family Court in Massachusetts below.
How do I contact the Massachusetts Family Court
We have listed all the Massachusetts County Family Courts below on this page. You can click on the link of your County or you City or Town and you will find the information you need.
Most Family Court matters will be dealt with by the District Court of your area. The District Court will have a Family Court division. So you can Contact the District Court for your Family Court matters.
There are very few places in America that list the Family Court as a separate Court on their information or contact pages, which does create confusion. If you have any doubt, go ahead and Contact your Local County District Court which you will find in the links below.
The Divorce Courts of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Family Courts are responsible for upholding the related MA Family laws and Codes. You can read more about Massachusetts Family Court Laws here.
If you need to go to Court as you feel someone is unfairly using a legal loophole or trying to avoid their family court obligations such as those for Child Support, you may need to go to Court. You can read more about Child Support Loopholes in Massachusetts here.
You can also find everything you need to know about Massachusetts Child Support obligations in Divorce proceedings here. If children are involved in your divorce matter or Family Court Case, then it is essential that you find out about Child Support and how it is applied in Massachusetts
Going to family court in Massachusetts
The first time going to family court for any person is an intimidating experience. No one wants to be there and they are wondering what will happen inside the courtroom. What happens inside the courtroom proceedings depends on the type of case that has been registered with family court or whether its a child custody hearing or visitation hearing. Generally speaking, people go to family court in Massachusetts for either child support hearings, divorce hearings, legal separation hearings, spousal maintenance (also known as alimony) hearings and/or child custody hearings. It’s important before going to family court it is best to be aware of what you should do when you get there and how should you dress for family court along with what people to expect inside the family court.
When you get to the court.
When you go to family court, it is important that you know where your case number is and what courtroom number your hearing (divorce hearing, child custody hearings etc.) is assigned too. When first arriving to family court, look for signage which will show you where each hearing takes place. When entering the courtroom, always identify yourself by stating out loud “I am (your name)”. It will be helpful if you can bring multiple copies of any exhibits (examples are letters between ex couple or parenting plan schedules) because during the course of proceedings, lawyers/judges may ask both parties to provide certain exhibits as proof.
What to wear for family court in Massachusetts
There isn’t any specific dress code for family court, but it is suggested that you dress professionally. You do not want to appear in court wearing dirty clothing or clothes which are so casual they look like you are going on a beach vacation. Men should avoid dressing in jeans and sneakers when going to family court because it makes them appear unprofessional. Women can opt for pants over skirts when attending hearings at family court. All parties are required to have their photo identification documents present when appearing before the judge.
Expectations of lawyers & judges inside family court.
Lawyers are at family court to provide legal representation for their client. Lawyers will need to meet with their clients prior to the start of proceedings so they can discuss the matter, prepare at trial and address any issues before appearing in family court. The lawyer’s role is to represent their client while presenting evidence which supports his/her client’s case or position. This means that during hearings, lawyers may object on behalf of their client if they feel that the other party is not adhering to proper procedures or if they feel there is some kind of misconduct occurring inside the courtroom. If you hear your lawyer objecting, it usually means he/she doesn’t agree with something which has been presented by the opposing counsel (lawyer representing the other party). If you find yourself in family court without a lawyer, it is best to say as little as possible. It is also important to understand that family court proceedings are open so you should avoid talking about your case with others around you once your case has started or when outside of the courtroom. Avoid looking at family members, friends and significant others because this could be seen as intimidating by the opposing counsel.
Lawyer's role inside a Massachusetts family court
The job of the judge is to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence presented by both parties which would lead him/her to make a decision (decree) on any financial awards (child support, spousal maintenance etc.) awarded to a party or whether or not there is a parenting plan in place. The judge will consider the evidence presented by both sides, if either side has violated court orders and what may have been in the best interest of any children involved.
Your role inside divorce and family court
It is important that you tell your story to the judge in an organized fashion. Before going into court have a list of points which you want to cover when talking about why your position should win out over the other party’s position. Make sure you address issues in a quick manner because judges at family court hearings don’t like getting bogged down with lots of detail. When you think you are done talking make sure to ask the judge if there is anything else he/she needs before ending your testimony. It can also be helpful to address any areas where you might have knowledge which the other side’s lawyer has not yet covered (such as financial or other issues). Once both sides have presented their evidence, each lawyer will then get an opportunity to provide rebuttals against what the opposing counsel has presented. After this phase concludes, both lawyers should present requests for judgement on behalf of their clients and keep in mind that judges at family court hearings don’t like getting bogged down with lots of detail so only include important points when providing these submissions.
Massachusetts Family Court matters involving Child Support applications
In cases involving children, family court judges will consider a number of issues including who is going to have primary custody as well as the amount of time each child spends with their non custodial parent. The judge may decide upon an appropriate amount which needs to be paid for child support and this would include monies being spent on items such as school, daycare and extracurricular expenses.
Spousal maintenance (alimony) in Massachusetts
During proceedings at family court, judges may award spousal maintenance (also called alimony) if one spouse demonstrates that he/she cannot live at the same standard of living they were accustomed to before separating from their spouse (spouse). Judges at family court hearings will consider the income of both parties as well as any time it would take for someone to retrain themselves for another career. Before awarding spousal maintenance, judges will also consider whether or not one party appears capable of maintaining themselves through work or if they might need financial assistance from the other side. There are some factors which would be considered by a judge before deciding whether or not to award spousal maintenance and these include: length of the marriage; contributions made to an increased standard of living during the marriage; age and health status of all involved people; education level achieved by each spouse along with their ability to support themselves now that they have separated from their partner; length of time separating during which the receiving spouse was out of the work force; and current income levels as well as issues such as fault during the marriage (which party caused it to end).
What happens after family court proceedings conclude?
Once both parties have presented their side, most family court judges will aim to end the hearing within a couple of hours (helping to ensure that people don’t get bogged down during their time in court). If necessary, hearings can be adjourned for periods longer than 2 hours but this is often only done if there are complex issues or significant amounts of evidence which need to be examined. After everything has been heard by the judge they will usually take some time to consider what was said before issuing any kind of decision/judgement. This doesn’t mean that all decisions are handed down immediately though so it’s important not to panic if you have no idea what is going on while you are waiting for a ruling. The judge can take up to a few months before handing down their verdict and family court judges will usually want time to consider things themselves before making any decisions.
What do family courts consider when issuing judgements?
Family courts aim to make rulings which all involved parties will be able to agree with but this assumes that both sides have been heard appropriately. In most cases, the judge’s primary concern is going to be looking after the best interests of any children involved in proceedings and these include custody as well as factors such as who is going to pay for what expenses on behalf of the children (such as school fees). Family court judges also place an emphasis upon not disrupting children’s lives unnecessarily which can also mean that they may not want to uproot them from their home. This is important for anyone who appears before family courts as family judges are unlikely to make rulings which would split children up from the other parent unless it was really necessary.
Family courts aim to make decisions regarding custody and spousal maintenance early enough so that all parties involved can still settle things out of court, however this doesn’t always happen. Although it is rare, family court judges might take up to a year or more before coming down with a decision if people haven’t been cooperating or if there are too many factors to consider in the time available. It’s possible for people to appear multiple times at family court hearings but this usually only happens if the issues at hand are quite complex. People who have ongoing disputes before family courts can often expect them to take years before being resolved which is why it’s important not to get bogged down with disputing over things you think are relevant, but instead keep focused on your end goal of obtaining a fair ruling/settlement based upon the events that have occurred.
Tips for making sure your Massachusetts family court experience is less stressful
Family court procedures vary between states so there isn’t really any one-size-fits-all advice regarding how to make sure your time spent in family court isn’t overly difficult or stressful. All people who go through the system will be judged by different judges and this means that each hearing needs to be considered individually. The following tips might be useful though:
– Get advice from a family lawyer before going to court – this way you will have some idea of what to expect and how you should behave in front of family judges, however it’s also important to bear in mind that any advice received is still only going to be a rough guide as each case will vary from person-to-person.
– Make sure your evidence is up-to-date – this means ensuring that all relevant information about the other party (such as their work history) has been presented properly or else there could be problems later on down the track which end up wasting more time and money. It’s important not to underestimate the importance of looking after your own interests.
– Try not to let grudges influence you – It can be easy to allow feelings of anger or resentment towards the other person in a family court case take over, however this is likely going to end up causing problems down the track if these feeling are still present when final decisions are being made. Family courts always try to make decisions based upon what is best for all involved parties and it’s important not to forget that things which might seem upsetting now could actually work out better for everyone in the long run. Keep focused on what really matters at this stage.
– Prepare yourself mentally – Although family court proceedings vary depending on where they take place, there will usually be many different people present who may ask questions about your family and children. This can be quite daunting for some people, however learning what to expect before hand is important so that everything runs as smoothly as possible. Family court hearings are rarely ever easy, but there are ways of making them less stressful if you do come across any problems along the way.
What happens when someone tries to resolve family law matters outside of family courts in Massachusetts?
Every state has different laws regarding how they handle these kinds of cases however it’s usually best for people who want to resolve disputes outside of the legal system to use mediation instead of arbitration . Mediation allows couples/parents who have fallen out with each other over child related issues meet with a third party (a mediator) who helps them to come to an agreement about what should happen going forward. This means that both parties have a say in the final outcome which is often a good way for people to build up trust with each other again after things have become heated between them.
The other type of alternative dispute resolution method is arbitration where someone from outside the family court system (most likely a lawyer) listens to both sides of the argument and then attempts to make a decision based upon all information presented during proceedings. Arbitration does not allow couples/parents as much freedom to come up with their own solution, however arbitrators are usually quite experienced at helping people resolve disputes without having go through the courts, so they will often be able to do this quickly if necessary.
The family court judges
There are two different types of judges who work in the family courts, these are district court judges and supreme court judges. The main difference between them is that district court judges usually only deal with cases within certain geographical areas while supreme court judges special hearings should always take place as close to the first appearance as possible so that interactions between people can be kept to a minimum.
Judges make decisions based upon evidence provided by both sides during family court proceedings, however they are also able to take into account any relevant information which has not been presented if they have good reason to do so. This might include individual family history or other relevant details about particular parties.
The roles played in the family courts in Massachusetts
There are many different people who contribute to making sure that everything runs smoothly during a family court case, these are usually listed below :-
– Parties – these are the parents/couples themselves who often have disputes regarding child related issues. They must attend hearings and prepare their own cases using the help of family lawyers if necessary before presenting this information to judges so that all facts can be presented as accurately as possible.
– Lawyers – These are the people who help parents/couples prepare their cases and decide how much information should be included in documents to ensure that everything is fair enough to work efficiently inside family courts. They must represent clients well during hearings otherwise this might lead to them losing a case.
– Family consultants – These people usually work for family services agencies, they act as counsellors or mediators between parents/couples before, during and after family court proceedings. Their job is to help explain what will happen if particular decisions are made by judges which can make things easier for parents/couples to understand what will happen next (although it’s important to remember that these people cannot guarantee anything).
– Court mediators – These people work for the family courts and they help parents/couples communicate with each other and resolve any disputes when they meet in person. They may also work with parties after proceedings to advise them about what might happen if their interactions go well or not so well, this can make future meetings between parents/couples easier because its less stressful (however it is important to remember that court mediators cannot force anything to happen).
– Family lawyers – these are independent practitioners who specialize in different areas of family law such as divorce disputes and child custody hearings.