Learn about Court Service Centers

Find out which services are offered at Court Service Centers.

The Massachusetts Trial Court is expanding walk-in Court Service Centers across the state. Court Service Centers help people navigate the court system. Centers are available to all court users without lawyers, and there are no income or immigration status requirements. All of the services in the Court Service Centers are free, but there may be other fees associated with your case, such as filing fees.

Please don’t send payments for filing fees to the Court Service Centers. You should give these payments to the appropriate court that is handling your case.

Table of Contents

Which services are available?

Court Service Centers offer:

  • Computers with access to online resources that are available on a first-come, first-served basis
  • One-on-one help filling out court forms 
  • Information about court rules, procedures, and practices
  • Court documents and written instructions
  • Access to interpreter services
  • Help with legal research
  • Contact information for community resources, legal assistance programs, and social service agencies

Some forms and self-help materials are available in multiple languages. If you don't speak English well, you have the right to an interpreter for free. Ask court staff for an interpreter and they'll provide one for you.

Can staff at the centers give legal advice?

Court Service Center staff can give legal information, but not legal advice. Legal information includes answering questions about how the court works and the different options available to you. The staff can't help decide what you should do or predict what will happen in a case. Court staff may give information to all parties to a case, and can't act as your lawyer.

What do I need to bring with me when I visit a center?

To start a court action, you’ll need to provide important information and/or documents to the court. Review the following list to get ready for your visit to one of our centers:

Case Type

What do I need to bring?

1A divorce: Joint divorce

  • Your spouse (both spouses must be present)
  • Certified copy of your marriage certificate (certified translation if it’s not in English)
  • Proof of income or money you receive (e.g.: pay stub, security statement, etc.). Information about debts or assets. We will need this information to complete a required financial statement.
  • Full name(s) and date(s) of birth of the child(ren) of the marriage, if any
  • Note: You’ll file at the Probate and Family Court in the county you and your spouse last lived in together, if one of you still lives there.

1B divorce (only 1 party filing)

  • Certified copy of your marriage certificate (certified translation if it’s not in English)
  • Your spouse’s current address (if current address is unknown, please bring your spouse’s last known address).
  • Full name(s) and date(s) of birth of the child(ren) of the marriage, if any
  • Notes:

Complaint for separate support

  • Certified copy of your marriage certificate (certified translation if it’s not in English).
  • Your spouse’s current address (if current address is unknown, please bring your spouse’s last known address).
  • Full name(s) and date(s) of birth of the child(ren) of the marriage, if any
  • Note: You’ll file at the Probate and Family Court in the county you and your spouse last lived in together, if one of you still lives there.

Complaint for custody, support, and parenting time

(Unmarried parents and both parents are in the birth certificate)

  • Certified copy of the child or children’s birth certificate (certified translation if it’s not in English).
  • Current address for the other parent (if the other parent’s address is unknown, please bring the other parent’s last known address).
  • Note: You’ll file in the Probate and Family Court in the county where the child lives.

Complaint to establish paternity

(Unmarried parents and father isn’t listed on birth certificate or there is no court order identifying a father)

  • If you’re the mother, then you’ll need a certified copy of the child or children’s birth certificate.
  • If you’re the father, you’re not required to have the child or children’s birth certificate. City Hall won’t give it to you.  
  • Current address for the other party in your case. If the other party’s address is unknown, please visit one of our centers to discuss what options might be available for you (always have in hand a last known address in case it can be used to notify the other party in your case).
  • Full name and date of birth of the child(ren).
  • Note: You’ll file in the Probate and Family Court in the county where the child lives.

Modification of child support order in a case where the Department of Revenue is collecting the support

(also called Commotions or Pilot Modifications)

  • A current financial summary from the Department of Revenue (DOR).
  • Proof of income or money you receive (e.g.: pay stub, security statement, etc.). Information about debts or assets. We’ll need this information to complete a required financial statement.
  • Current address for the other party in your case. If the other party’s address is unknown, please visit one of our centers to discuss what options might be available for you (always have in hand a last known address in case it can be used to notify the other party in your case).

Complaint for contempt

(Filed when one party isn’t following a temporary order or judgment)

  • If you’re looking to file a Complaint for Contempt because the other party isn’t paying child support, please bring a current financial summary print out from the Department of Revenue (DOR).
  • Current address for the other party in your case. If the other party’s address is unknown, please visit one of our centers to discuss what options might be available for you (always have in hand a last known address in case it can be used to notify the other party in your case).
  • Proof of how the other party isn’t following a court temporary order or judgment.

Joint petition to modify judgment or order

  • The other party must come with you to the center.
  • Proof of income or money you receive (e.g.: pay stub, security statement, etc.). Information about debts or assets. We’ll need this information to complete a required financial statement.
  • A current financial summary from the Department of Revenue (DOR).

Complaint to enforce a foreign decree

  • Certified copy of the foreign (out-of-state) judgment (certified translation if it isn’t in English)
  • Current address for the other party in your case. If the other party’s address is unknown, please visit one of our centers to discuss what options might be available for you (always have in hand a last known address in case it can be used to notify the other party in your case).
  • Notes:
    • If foreign judgment involves children, child must have lived in MA for at least 6 months before filing, unless it’s an emergency.
    • You’ll file in the Probate and Family Court in the county where the child lives.

Complaint to revise or alter a foreign decree

  • Certified copy of the foreign (out-of-state) judgment (certified translation if it’s not in English)
  • Current address for the other party in your case. If the other party’s address is unknown, please visit one of our centers to discuss what options might be available for you (always have in hand a last known address in case it can be used to notify the other party in your case).
  • Notes:
    • If foreign judgment involves children, child must have lived in MA for at least 6 months before filing, it’s an emergency.
    • You’ll file in the Probate and Family Court in the county where the child lives.

Name change

 

  • Certified copy of birth certificate (certified translation if it’s not in English)
  • If going back to maiden name, certified copy of divorce decree.
  • Photo ID of person requesting name change (if 12 years old or older) and parents of person requesting the name change, if under 18 years old. If person requesting the name change is between 12 and 17 years old and has no ID, please inform CSC staff.
  • If person requesting name change is under 18 years old, current address for the other parent (if the other parent’s address is unknown, please bring the other parent’s last known address).
  • Note: You should file in the Probate and Family Court in the county where the person requesting the name change lives.

Voluntary administration

 

  • Certified copy of Death Certificate
  • Note: to file a Voluntary Administration, the person must have been dead for at least 30 days.
  • Person filing must be a blood relative or listed in the will.
  • They must know the assets that they’re trying to get access to.
  • Original will, if there is one.
  • Addresses for all heirs and/or devisees of the deceased. Please look at Instructions for voluntary administration with or without a will to learn who’s considered an heir and/or a devisee.
  • Note: This paperwork is filed in the Probate and Family Court in the county the deceased person lived in, as listed in the death certificate.

Petition for guardianship of adult

  • Completed Clinical Team Report (valid for 6 months from last examination) or Medical Certificate (valid for 30 days from last examination). Please see File for guardianship of an incapacitated person to find out which of these 2 documents you should complete.
  • Full names (with correct spelling) and addresses of all interested parties in the case (for example, spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc.)
  • Note: This petition is filed at the Probate and Family Court in the county where the incapacitated person currently lives or has their permanent address.

Petition for guardianship of minor

  • If minor is 14 or older, they must agree to the petition. A photo ID for the minor child is required, if available. If a photo ID isn’t available, please tell CSC staff.
  • Full name and current address of known parents. (If any of the addresses are unknown, please bring the last known address).
  • Notes: You’ll file in the Probate and Family Court in the county where the child lives. The child must have lived in MA for at least 6 months before filing, unless it’s an emergency.

General equity petition to correct marriage/death/birth certificate

  • Certified copy of vital that is wrong (birth, marriage, death certificate).
  • Certified copy of documents that prove there's an error.
  • Any documents you think are helpful.

Eviction answer and discovery

 

  • Copies of :
    • Summons and Complaint
    • Notice to Quit, if available.
    • Lease, if available.

Small claims ($7,000 or less)

  • Defendant’s address and proof that the address is correct.
  • Any documents you think are helpful to support your claim.

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This list will help you prepare for your visit to one of our Court Service Centers; however, other considerations about the applicable law could prohibit you from filing a document, require you to file another type of document, and/or require you to go to a different court.

Please note there are certain requirements about where cases must be filed, when a case can be filed, and what documents are needed. It’s best to bring all documents and information when you visit a center. If any document isn’t in English, please be sure to bring a certified translation.

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