Trial Court Rules

Administrative Order

Trial Court Rules Trial Court Administrative Order 14-1: For the Implementation of the 209A Case Transfer Procedure at the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court Department and for the Interdepartmental Transfer of Certain Abuse Prevention Proceedings

Effective Date: 04/07/2014
Referenced Sources: M.G.L. c. 211B, § 9(xiii)

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Administrative Order 14-1

This Order is issued pursuant to the authority set forth in G.L. c. 211B, § 9(xiii).

This order will take effect April 7, 2014.

I. Order of transfer

Any judge of the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court Department, may, acting sua sponte or upon the motion or request of any party to a domestic relations case pending in the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court Department, order the transfer to said court of any abuse prevention proceeding then pending in the Dedham District Court. The transfer is not to be done over the objection of the parties except for good cause shown.

Prior to the issuance of such transfer order, the Court shall provide all parties with an opportunity to be heard.

Upon the issuance of such a transfer order by the Probate and Family Court judge, the District Court action shall forthwith be transferred to the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court. The Probate and Family Court shall thereupon have the authority to revise or modify District Court orders (hereinafter “G.L. c. 209A orders”) issued prior to such transfer or to make new orders in the transferred action as if the action had commenced in the Probate and Family Court. Any currently effective District Court G.L. c. 209A order shall be considered an effective order of the Probate and Family Court and shall be deemed to have issued on the date said G.L. c. 209A order issued in the District Court.

II. Procedures for transfer

Upon the issuance of a transfer order, the following shall occur:

A.

A judge of the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court who orders a transfer shall:

(1)

on that same day issue a written Order of Transfer and thereupon forthwith issue a single 209A order using a Probate and Family Court docket number that shall state all terms of the 209A order currently in effect including any terms transferred from District Court.

(2)

advise the party or parties appearing before said judge of the effects of the transfer including but not limited to an explanation that:

(a) the abuse prevention proceeding shall thereafter be a matter docketed in the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court;

(b) all further proceedings will take place in the Probate and Family Court; and

(c) the case in the District Court will be transferred.

B.

The Register of the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court shall:

(1)

prepare such case files and make such docket entries as he or she deems appropriate provided, however, that such case shall be assigned a new Probate and Family Court docket number;

(2)

notify the Probation Department of the Probate and Family Court that the District Court 209A order has been transferred to the Norfolk Probate and Family Court;

(3)

inform the Clerk of the District Court of the transfer by faxing notification to the District Court;

(4)

transmit a copy of the Probate and Family Court c. 209A order and Order of Transfer to the relevant police department(s) in the same manner as required when any other G.L. c. 209A order is modified; and

(5)

serve a copy of the Probate and Family Court G.L. c. 209A order and Order of Transfer on all parties in the same manner as required when any other G.L. c. 209A order is modified.

C.

The Probation Department of the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court shall:

(1)

on the same day of the transfer order make an appropriate entry of such transfer and of any subsequent modification of such order into the Statewide Registry of Civil Restraining Orders.

(2)

notify the Probation Department of the District Court that the District Court G.L. c. 209A order has been transferred to the Norfolk Probate and Family Court.

D.

Upon receipt of the Notification of Transfer by the District Court, the Clerk of the District Court shall:

(1)

note the transfer on the District Court docket;

(2)

immediately transmit copies of any case papers that have not previously been transmitted to the Register of the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court. All original case papers shall be retained in the District Court case files.

E.

Upon notification from the Clerk’s office that the G.L. c. 209A order has been transferred, the Probation Department of the District Court shall:

(1)

verify that the transferred order has been entered into the Statewide Registry of Civil Restraining Orders by the Probation Department of the Probate and Family Court Department;

(2)

make the appropriate entry to indicate that the G.L. c. 209A order has been transferred to the Probate and Family Court Department.

Commentary

Several years ago an inter-departmental working group was created to consider issues of common concern regarding procedures under G.L. c. 209A and to further cooperation among the departments in implementing our joint jurisdiction. The working group includes representatives of the District, Probate an Family, Superior and Boston Municipal Court Departments. The working group focused on the development of a revised policy to simplify the current complex procedures for transfers of orders back and forth between departments when an order from one department must be revised to conform to a new Probate and Family Court order. As a result of that group’s efforts, a pilot procedure was implemented which enabled the inderdepartmental transfer of District Court abuse prevention proceedings to the Probate and Family Court under certain circumstances. The procedure is currently effective in Barnstable County.

Historically, as is articulated in the Trial Court’s Guidelines for Judicial Practice, Abuse Prevention Proceedings (2011), parties should never be referred to the Probate and Family Court for any relief that is within the District Court’s jurisdiction, regardless of marital status or the involvement of children. Further, if there already exists a Probate and Family Court order relating to custody or support, the District Court may not include that type of relief in any abuse prevention order it issues, since the Probate and Family Court has superseding authority in those areas and exclusive authority over visitation.

Similarly, an ex parte order may not be returned by a District Court judge to the Probate and Family Court unless it is issued while the District Court judge is serving on Emergency Response and, thus, in that circumstance is sitting as a Probate and Family Court judge.

The 209A case transfer procedure permits a judge of the designated Probate and Family Court acting sua sponte or upon the motion or request of any party to a domestic relations case pending in that court to order the transfer of any abuse prevention proceeding then pending in the certain District Courts. The procedure is intended both to minimize the burden imposed on parties by having related cases simultaneously pending in different court departments and to improve the efficiency of the handling and processing of such cases.

Please be aware that under the terms of this 209A case transfer procedure, it is only the judge of the Probate and Family Court that can order the transfer. The referral of such matters by a District Court judge to Probate and Family Court continues to be prohibited.

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