Online Interview Method
If you make less than $75,000 per year, you can use an online system that will ask you questions and fill out the necessary forms for you. Visit Changing a Child Support Order to get started. You should have your financial information and your original child support order with you before you start.
If You Can't or Choose Not to Use the Online Interview
A. If only one person wants to change the support order, there are two options:
- If the Department of Revenue (DOR) is involved in the child support arrangement, they will assist you if it appears that there is a legal basis for changing the order. Learn how at DOR's Modify Your Court Order. This is one of many services DOR Child Support Enforcement offers to those either paying or receiving child support.
- If you decide to file for a modification yourself or DOR is not involved, this form must be filed:
Complaint for Modification (CJD 104)
The person filing the Complaint is the Plaintiff and the other party is the Defendant regardless of who was the Plaintiff or Defendant in the original court proceeding. You must state the circumstances that have changed in the complaint.
What happens next?
- When you file the complaint, the court staff will give you a completed summons form. You must make sure that this form is served on (delivered to) the other party. If you feel that the other party will not object to the modification, you can have him/her sign the summons in the presence of a notary public and then return it to the court.
- Otherwise, see Service of Process for an explanation of how service works. Keep a copy of the complaint and summons for yourself.
- Once the constable or sheriff has completed service to the other person, he will either send the summons completed on the back with the date of service directly back to the court or to you. If he sends it to you, make sure that you file the completed summons with the court as soon as possible.
- Fill out a Financial Statement and send it to the other parent.
- Fill out the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
- The defendant has 20 days to file with the court an “Answer” to the Complaint for Modification. An Answer is a written response to what the Plaintiff has stated in the Complaint for Modification. See Answers for more information. After that time, you should file a request for assignment of a court date if the staff has not already assigned one. If the defendant does not file an answer, then you should ask court staff about scheduling it for an uncontested trial or pre-trial conference. If he/she does, then ask the court staff to schedule a pre-trial conference and explain the issues involved in the modification.
B. If both parties agree to the change
If both parents are in agreement to change the amount of child support, the Rules provide for a simpler process. The procedure is outlined in Rule 412 of the Mass. Supplemental Rules of the Probate and Family Court
These forms must be filed:
- Copy of the judgment or order to be changed. Get this from the staff at the Probate and Family Court that issued it if you don’t already have a copy.
- See Checklist of Required Forms for a list of and links to other necessary forms.
The above forms must be file together as a “complete packet.” If necessary forms are missing, it will delay action by the court. The packet can be filed in person or by mail.
What happens after the packet is filed?
If all forms have been filed and the court approves the modification, both parties will receive a copy of the decision within 30 days.
If forms are missing or incorrect or the judge has questions about the new agreement, the court will notify you within 21 days that a hearing has been scheduled. Both parties are required to attend.