Paternity

If you not married to the other parent of a minor child and are seeking support, custody or visitation, please read this important message. 

IMPORTANT PLEASE READ   

Before a Court can issue any Orders regarding the care, custody, support or visitation of a minor child, the Court must have proof that the father is, IN FACT, the father of the minor child. 

Having a father’s name on a birth certificate for a birth occurring before April 13, 1994, DOES NOT establish paternity.

If the father signed an Affidavit of Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage in the hospital when your child was born on or after April 13, 1994, he will be listed as the father on the birth certificate, and no Paternity Action is required.  If the father and mother signed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage any time after the birth of your child on or after April 13, 1994, no Paternity action is required.  Also, if you have a Court Order declaring this person to be the father of a child (i.e. "John Doe is adjudicated to be the father of.........."), then you will not have to file a Paternity Action.

If such an Affidavit of Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage or Court Order exists, and you wish to settle issues of child support, custody and/or visitation, you will need to go to the SUPPORT, CUSTODY VISITATION page since paternity has been established.   (Click here for quick link)

If no Court Order exists or if there was no such Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage on or after  April 13, 1994 and you wish to address the issues of paternity, child support, custody and/or visitation, you will need to file a Paternity Action.  For the appropriate papers to file this specific action, you have come to the right place.

After reading the Important Information above, and you need to file a Paternity Action this is the place to start.

All forms that are linked below can be filled out by the applicant on-line.   However, the applicant still needs to print out the form, sign it and then submit it to Plymouth County Probate and Family Court either by mail or in person.

A helpful guide for parents living apart has been prepared by The Massachusetts Association of Family and Conciliation Courts  with the support of the Honorable Sean M. Dunphy, Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court. (Click here)

Here you will find:

What to file

Where to File

What happens after you file

What to file:

Filing fee  $120.00 Payable to “Plymouth Probate Court”.  Bank check or money order is required. No personal checks are accepted.)
Complaint to Establish Paternity (Click for form) You MUST file ONE form for each child
Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody of a child, you MUST file this form.
                   Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody (Click for form)
                   Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody - Page 2 (Click for Form)
Birth certificate of each child.  You must go to the city or town hall where the child was born to get this.
Public Assistance Affidavit (Click for form)  File one form for each child
Statement of Information Required for Amendment of Birth Record.  This form is required if the father is not listed on the birth certificate. (Click for form)
A Financial Statement must be completed.   If your annual income is less than  $75,000, a short form Financial Statement is required(Click here for form-Print on pink paper)  If your annual income is more than  $75,000, a Long form Financial Statement is required.  (Click here for form-Print on pink paper)

Where to file:

All papers above should be filed:

By mail to: Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
ATTN:  Paternity Department
215 Main Street, Suite 220
Brockton MA 02301-7277
In person at: Plymouth County Probate and Family Court

or

Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
215 Main Street 52 Obery Street
Brockton, MA 02301 Plymouth, MA 02360

What to expect after you file:

After you file your Complaint to Establish Paternity and related documents, with the Court, they must be processed. Processing your Complaint and other papers means that your case needs to be indexed, assigned a docket number, file stamped,  and docketed into the official court docket.  The Court creates a separate file for each child, a fact which requires the filing by you of separate documents for each child.

The Court then issues a Summons to you. Once you receive this summons, you MUST take it or mail it to the Sheriff's Department of the County in which the Defendant lives.  A Constable who is authorized to serve civil process in a designated city or town may also be utilized. The Sheriff or Constable will "make service".   This means that the Sheriff or Constable will bring a copy of the Complaint and other papers to the Defendant.    The Sheriff's Department or Constable will then send you the Original Summons with the back part of the summons filled out, stating that either service was made or that the Sheriff or Constable was unable to make service. This is called a "return of service".   This original Summons will need to be filed with the Court.  This will prove to the Court that service has been made. 

Once you file the original summons, including the “return of service,” with the court, you will be able to file for a court hearing:

                 By a motion, in order to receive a temporary order on matters of support, custody, visitation, or other matters which the court might deem just, (Click here for Motion

OR

                 The Court will automatically assign the case for a Case Management Conference, at which time a Pre-Trial Conference will be scheduled, if necessary.    NOTE:  Although the Court automatically assigns a Case Management Conference, either party may file and schedule a motion for a Judge's regular motion session before the scheduled Case Management Conference takes place.  In such event, the Judge may cancel the scheduled Case Management Conference and proceed to schedule a Pre-Trial Conference. 

                   If the matter is not resolved at the Pre-Trial Conference, then it will be assigned a trial date.

PLEASE NOTE:  

Always remember that if there is more than one child, you MUST file any motions or other pleadings for each child.

In any hearing or trial to determine child support, the parties must prepare and present to the Judge, at the hearing or trial, a Child Support guidelines Worksheet (Form CJ-D-304-Print on light blue paper).  Click the following quick links for the worksheet and other information regarding child support: 

 

 
Child support guidelines Information   Child Support Chart Information regarding income   Child Support Guideline worksheet (this form will calculate your support)

 

Instructions for completing guidelines

 

      Child Support Findings for deviation

 

Click here to Download the DOR Paternity Guide for Unmarried Parents!  (In .pdf format - Please wait till file loads) (50.59 KB)