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If you and your spouse both agree that you would like to change your alimony, you should file a Joint Petition. See:
If you can’t agree on the changes, you should file:
If you are not the one who is asking for the change to alimony, the first time you hear about the court action might be when you get served with papers by a sheriff or constable. Read through the papers you receive carefully. You are the defendant in this case.
You have 20 days to file an “Answer” with the court. The Answer is a document that you write yourself, it isn’t a court form that you fill out. See Respond to a case filed against you in Probate and Family Court for information on how to write your answer and how to send it to the plaintiff (the person asking for the change) and the court.
Below are the fees if you are asking for alimony for the first time after you divorce. Note there may be additional fees to the sheriff or constable for service.
If you cannot afford to pay court fees, see Indigency (Waiver of court fees).
You must file in the county where the alimony was originally granted, usually where you were divorced. For example, if you lived in Norfolk County when alimony was first ordered, but you now live in Suffolk and the defendant now lives in Plymouth County, you must file in Norfolk Probate and Family Court.
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 person. If you feel that the other person 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.
If you know that the other party will object to the change, you should have a constable or sheriff in that county serve the summons. Usually you need to hire a sheriff or constable to serve the defendant.
There are also directories of constables online. You will need to pay the sheriff or constable for the service or give him a copy of your approved indigency form. When a sheriff serves the defendant, he or she gives the defendant a copy of the summons, complaint and tracking notice.
Then, he or she fills out the second page of the summons, called Return of Service. Return of Service is proof that the defendant was served.
Once this is completed, the original summons (not a copy) must be filed with the court. Check with the sheriff to see if he or she will file it for you or if you must file it with the court yourself. It is your responsibility to make sure the original summons is filed.
Once the constable or sheriff has completed service to the other party, he or she will either send the summons completed on the back with the date of service directly back to the court or to you. If he or she sends it to you, make sure that you file the completed summons with the court as soon as possible.
The other person, called the defendant, has 20 days to file an answer to the Complaint for Modification of Alimony. 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 for an uncontested trial. If he/she does, then ask the court staff to schedule a pre-trial conference and explain the issues involved in the modification.