In order to get a child support order, you must file a complaint (written request of what you are seeking) in court.  

The kind of complaint you file will depend on whether you were married to the other parent and what you are asking the court to do.  You may also ask the  Massachusetts Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division to help you with going to court to get  a child support order. 

Note: You may be able to use an online system that will determine the forms you need and, through an interview, fill them out for you to print, IF:

  • You earn less than $75,000 per year AND
  • you are not married to the other parent or are married but do not want a divorce AND
  • the only thing you want is child support.

If you think you qualify, see Getting a Child Support Order .

Otherwise, see below for information on the process.

If you are married to the other parent: start in the Registry of the Probate and Family Court for the county where you live. If you are married and seeking a divorce, you file where you last lived together with your spouse if at least one of you still lives in that county.  If you have both moved from the county where you last lived together, then you can file in the county where either you or your spouse now lives. See Where do I file? to find the court for your county.

  • If you are seeking a divorce see Divorce for information and forms.
  • If you want to file for Separate Support, but do not want a divorce, see Separate Support for information and forms.

If you are not married to the other parent, start in the Registry of the Probate and Family Court in the county where you and the child reside. 

If the other parent has not signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (legal form signed by mother and father, acknowledging they are the parents of the child) or been determined by a judge to be the parent:

If you are not married to the other parent but paternity has been established by a Voluntary Acknowledgment or a court judgment:

For more information on paying fees, and what to do if you cannot afford them, see Paying Your Fees  

When you file your complaint, you will receive a summons (a court form that notifies the other parent of what you have filed) from the court. Make copies of your complaint and the summons to keep for your records.  You will then need to notify the other parent through Service of Process. The Constable or Deputy Sheriff will deliver the complaint and summons to the other parent and prove the delivery by signing the back of the summons and explaining how the non-custodial parent was served (for example “in hand”).  This is called a return of service. The constable or sheriff will return it to you by mail.  You must file the return of service with the court as soon as you can. The court cannot make a support order unless the proof that the other parent was served has been filed with the court.

Next, if you are trying to establish a child support order quickly, you may file a motion for temporary orders at the court. Use the Motion (CJD400) form pdf format of Motion (CJD 400)
and list what orders you want from the court, for example child support.  Ask court personnel for possible dates for a hearing on your motion. Mail a copy of the motion and notice of the hearing date to the other parent.

Each parent must file a financial statement when you have a court hearing about money.   A financial statement is a court form that requires you to list your income, expenses, what you own and what you owe. See Financial Statements for more information.