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Navigating the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court System

There are many different types of courts in Massachusetts.  Most people confuse the different types and thinks that any court can handle any type of issue.  Courts are divided by geographical areas that they service and also by subject matter that they can handle.

The Probate and Family Court system only handles issues with family law, divorce, custody, probate and will contests.  All family disputes are dealt with in Probate and Family Court and really no other.  One of the few exceptions is that restraining orders can be taken out in Probate and Family court, or District Court, or Superior Court.

Each county has only one Probate and Family Court.  There is not a Probate and Family court in each city or town.  Some of the Probate and Family Courts have satellite locations if the county that they service is too big.  One example of this is Middlesex County Probate and Family Court.  The main location is in Cambridge, directly across from our offices.  However, they also have satellite locations in Lawrence, Marlboro, and they have another location just a few blocks down from the main court. If you want to get your case heard in Lawrence or Marlboro, then you need to specifically request it or else it defaults to the main Cambridge location.

Perhaps because there’s only one Probate and Family Court per county, it is no surprise that they are the busiest courts in the Commonwealth.  Most of the court staff are over-worked and underpaid.  So do not be too hard on them if they fall behind on their work or if they seem to rush you through the system.  They simply do not have the resources to handle all the cases that they have.

It is advisable for someone going through the Probate and Family Court system to hire a lawyer, full time if possible.  Hiring a lawyer will help you navigate the system with some ease and you can be sure that you’ll be guided to what you need to do in order to achieve your goals in Court.

Call us today or visit us for help with your family law issue.