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What can I do if I need a custody order right away and I am not married to my child's other parent?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed July 2023

If you are not married and you need to get a custody order right away, because of domestic violence, file a 209A Complaint for Protection from Abuse and ask for custody in the complaint. See What can I do if I need a custody order right away because of domestic violence?

If you need to get custody right away for your child’s well-being and happiness, file:

  • a Complaint for Custody-Support-Parenting Time (Ch. 209C),
  • an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding,
  • a motion,
  • an affidavit in support of the motion, and
  • a proposed order.

Jump to a downloadable list of forms.

Read Anna and Arthur’s story to see why someone might need a custody order right away.

Anna and Arthur

Arthur and Anna are not married. They have a 10 year old daughter, Belle. Arthur and Anna signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage, so Arthur is Belle’s legal father. But Anna has sole legal and physical custody of Belle because:

  • she was never married to Arthur and
  • there is no court order for custody.

Belle lives with Anna, but she spends a lot of time at Arthur’s house.

Arthur and Anna have an informal schedule. Arthur has parenting time with Belle, including overnights and taking Belle to school. Arthur and Anna made these arrangements to fit their work schedules.

Recently, Arthur has been so depressed he cannot get up and go to work or take Belle to school. Anna has to go over to Arthur’s house to get Belle and take her to school. Sometimes he does not pick Belle up from school and Anna has to leave work to get Belle. Anna and Belle cannot count on Arthur. Belle is having trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating at school.

Anna needs a custody order right away because Arthur cannot take care of Belle now and he will not agree to change their parenting plan.

Anna told Arthur she needs to have sole legal and physical custody of Belle, and that they need to have a written schedule for parenting time. Arthur disagreed. He says he wants to keep things the way they are.

Anna needs to make Belle’s life more stable. She is going to change her work schedule. She feels she needs to ask the court to give her sole legal and physical custody right away.

Anna files a Complaint for Custody-Support-Parenting Time (Ch. 209C) to ask for sole legal and physical custody. She must also file an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceeding.

Since she needs the court order right away and the case may take a long time, she is going to file a Motion for Temporary Custody.

She also files a Proposed Order and an Affidavit in Support of Motion for Temporary Custody.

Forms

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