Request to change a child custody or parenting time order

Learn how to change a child custody or parenting time order, what forms you'll need, and where to file.
Most people receive a copy of a decision within 30 days.

Probate and Family Court locations

The Details of Request to change a child custody or parenting time order

What you need for Request to change a child custody or parenting time order

A custody or parenting time arrangement can be changed by the court if the person who wants the change can show:

  • A significant change in circumstances since the judgment or temporary order was made
  • That the best interests of the children aren’t being met by the current arrangement

One parent can ask for a change (called a modification) in custody or parenting time, or if both parents agree on the change, they can request the change together.

You'll also need to pay the following fees. You only need to pay the summons fee if you're filing a complaint.

Fees for Request to change a child custody or parenting time order

Name Fee Unit
Summons Fee $5 each
Complaint for Modification or Joint Petition for Modification Fee $50 each

How to request Request to change a child custody or parenting time order

You should usually file with the Probate and Family Court where the judgment or order was originally issued.

If the other parent lives in a different state, the Massachusetts Child Custody Jurisdiction Act applies. This law determines which state’s court has the authority to change a custody agreement. If Massachusetts qualifies as the home state, the case may be heard in this state. You may want to get legal advice in this situation. See Find a Lawyer in Massachusetts for help with finding an attorney.

You should usually mail your forms to the Probate and Family Court where the judgment or order was originally issued.


If the other parent lives in a different state, the Massachusetts Child Custody Jurisdiction Act applies. This law determines which state’s court has the authority to change a custody agreement. If Massachusetts qualifies as the home state, the case may be heard in this state. You may want to get legal advice in this situation. See Find a Lawyer in Massachusetts for help with finding an attorney.

Next steps for Request to change a child custody or parenting time order

Serve papers to the other person

If only one person is seeking to change a temporary order, check with the division where your case is to find out how to get a date for the hearing on the motion. Once you know the hearing date, you must serve (notify) the other person by mailing them a copy of these documents as well as the time, date, and location of the hearing within 10 days of the hearing.

More info about Request to change a child custody or parenting time order

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 must attend.

Downloads for Request to change a child custody or parenting time order

Contact for Request to change a child custody or parenting time order

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