We are posting each Massachusetts county’s orders and instructions for Probate & Family Court operations during the coronavirus as we receive them.
[UPDATE 4/3/2020: SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF BLOG FOR LATEST NEWS.]
Probate Court Orders/Guidance by County
- Open letter regarding co-parenting during COVID-19 from Chief Justice John D. Casey (3/23/2020)
- Probate & Family Court Standing Order 2-20: Court operations under the exigent circumstances created by COVID-19
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): MA Probate & Family Court Operations During Coronavirus (4/3/2020)
- Barnstable Probate & Family Court - Implementation of Standing Order 2-20 (3/18/2020)
- Bristol Probate & Family Court - Temporary Case Management Protocol (3/23/2020)
- Essex Probate & Family Court - Info Summary (4/3/2020)
- Hampden Probate & Family Court - Info Summary (4/3/2020)
- Middlesex Probate & Family Court - Operations Under Standing Order 2-20 (3/20/2020) and Updated Protocol for Emergency and Non-Emergency Cases (4/2/2020)
- Norfolk Probate & Family Court - Info Summary (4/3/2020)
- Plymouth Probate & Family Court - Temporary Case Management Protocol (3/19/2020)
- Suffolk Probate & Family Court - Info Summary (4/3/2020)
- Worcester Probate & Family Court - Guidelines for Implementation of Standing Order 2-20 and Supplemental Amendment
Some Probate & Family Courts Closed Temporarily
- Hampden Probate & Family Court (until 4/9/20)
- Worcester Probate & Family Court (until 3/30/20)
- Suffolk Probate & Family Court (until 4/7/20)
- Plymouth Probate and Family Court - Brockton (reopen date pending)
Please check the state's temporary closures page for up to date information.
Out Other Coronavirus Related Coverage
UPDATE 4/1/2020: SJC Extends Statewide Court Closures to 5/3/2020 for Non-Emergency Matters
- Supreme Judicial Court Order regarding court operations under the exigent circumstances created by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic
UPDATE 4/2/2020: Mass. Probate & Family Courts Provide New Guidance for Emergency Motions
- Filing Methods for Emergency Actions as defined by Probate and Family Court Standing Order 2-20: Court Operations under the Exigent Circumstances Created by COVID-19
The new guidance includes tables setting out the proper method for filing emergency probate and health care proxy actions, as well as guardianship matters, all of which are especially important at a moment when vulnerable populations (such as nursing home residents) are facing unique medical risks, and where children whose parents are hospitalized with the virus are creating an increasing need for guardianship of a minor appointments. The guidance provides email addresses for each county court, and expressly provides for the electronic filing of all emergency matters either by email or efiling. (For 209A restraining orders, individuals are permitted to file by email or in person.)
The guidance provides that emergency filings should be submitted by email in existing domestic relations cases:
- Motion in existing case - Motions for temporary orders where exceptional/exigent circumstances have been demonstrated
- Complaint for Contempt - Contempt actions where exceptional/exigent circumstances have been demonstrated
In general, all emergency filings must be supported by an affidavit or sworn statement that demonstrates that an emergency or "exceptional/exigent circumstances" exist; however, the standard for what qualifies as an emergency is defined by individual courts on a county by county basis.
The newly-released guidance includes specific email addresses and phone numbers at each Massachusetts Probate & Family Court for litigants seeking to file emergency matters:
Emergency Filing Contacts by County:
- Barnstable firstname.lastname@example.org (508) 375 6710
- Berkshire email@example.com (413) 442-6941
- Bristol firstname.lastname@example.org (508) 977-6040
- Dukes email@example.com (508) 627-4703
- Essex firstname.lastname@example.org SALEM: (978) 740-4143, LAWRENCE: (978) 686-9692
- Franklin email@example.com (413) 775-7460
- Hampshire firstname.lastname@example.org (413) 586-8500
- Hampden email@example.com (413) 748-7600
- Middlesex firstname.lastname@example.org (617) 768-5800
- Norfolk email@example.com (781) 830-1278
- Nantucket firstname.lastname@example.org (508) 228-2669
- Plymouth email@example.com (508) 897-5400
- Suffolk firstname.lastname@example.org (617) 788-8300
- Worcester email@example.com (508) 831-2200
Coronavirus Related Legal Services at Lynch & Owens
Lynch & Owens has adjusted our service delivery model in response to the coronavirus crisis. In addition to providing traditional divorce and family representation, during the outbreak, we are focused on delivering rapid-response legal services (including same-day service) to clients facing emergency financial and child-related issues, as well as assisting self-represented clients with document preparation and filings while the courts are closed for most regular business.
Clients can schedule same-day, 1-hour paid consultations with our attorneys by phone and we are accepting retainers as low as $750 for additional consultation services. We are also offering same-day video mediation for parents, spouses and former spouses who are seeking to mediate coronavirus impacted issues such as visitation, parenting time, and child support and alimony orders impacted by layoffs and unemployment. Our staff and attorneys have full remote access to all our office's resources in the event of mandatory quarantine or shelter-in-place order.
Please see our dedicated Coronavirus Legal Services page for more information.
About the Author: Jason V. Owens is a Massachusetts divorce lawyer and family law attorney for Lynch & Owens, located in Hingham, Massachusetts and East Sandwich, Massachusetts. He is also a mediator for South Shore Divorce Mediation.