Massachusetts Laws

 

Massachusetts Laws

Chapter 119 -Mass Grandparent Visitation

MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL LAWS

GRANDPARENT VISITATION

Chapter 119 Section 39D

If the parents of an unmarried minor child are divorced, married but living apart, under a temporary order or judgment of separate support, or if either or both parents are deceased, or if said unmarried minor child was born out of wedlock whose paternity has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction or whose father has signed an acknowledgement of paternity, and the parents do not reside together, the grandparents of such minor child may be granted reasonable visitation rights to the minor child during his minority by the probate and family court department of the trial court upon a written finding that such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the said minor child; provided, however, that such adjudication of paternity or acknowledgment of paternity shall not be required in order to proceed under this section where maternal grandparents are seeking such visitation rights. No such visitation rights shall be granted if said minor child has been adopted by a person other than a stepparent of such child and any visitation rights granted pursuant to this section prior to such adoption of the said minor child shall be terminated upon such adoption without any further action of the court.

A petition for grandparents visitation authorized under this section shall, where applicable, be filed in the county within the commonwealth in which the divorce or separate support complaint or the complaint to establish paternity was filed. If the divorce, separate support or paternity judgment was entered without the commonwealth but the child presently resides within the commonwealth, said petition may be filed in the county where the child resides.

Chapter 208 -Mass Child Support

MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL LAWS

GRANDPARENT VISITATION

Chapter 208 Section 28

Children; care, custody and maintenance; child support obligations; provisions for education and health insurance; parents convicted of first degree murder

Upon a judgment for divorce, the court may make such judgment as it considers expedient relative to the care, custody and maintenance of the minor children of the parties and may determine with which of the parents the children or any of them shall remain or may award their custody to some third person if it seems expedient or for the benefit of the children. In determining the amount of the child support obligation or in approving the agreement of the parties, the court shall apply the child support guidelines promulgated by the chief justice for administration and management, and there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the order which would result from the application of the guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support to be ordered. If, after taking into consideration the best interests of the child, the court determines that a party has overcome such presumption, the court shall make specific written findings indicating the amount of the order that would result from application of the guidelines; that the guidelines amount would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances; the specific facts of the case which justify departure from the guidelines; and that such departure is consistent with the best interests of the child. Upon a complaint after a divorce, filed by either parent or by a next friend on behalf of the children after notice to both parents, the court may make a judgment modifying its earlier judgment as to the care and custody of the minor children of the parties provided that the court finds that a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the parties has occurred and the judgment of modification is necessary in the best interests of the children. In furtherance of the public policy that dependent children shall be maintained as completely as possible from the resources of their parents and upon a complaint filed after a judgment of divorce, orders of maintenance and for support of minor children shall be modified if there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from application of the child support guidelines promulgated by the chief justice for administration and management or if there is a need to provide for the health care coverage of the child. A modification to provide for the health care coverage of the child shall be entered whether or not a modification in the amount of child support is necessary. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the order which would result from the application of the guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support to be ordered. If, after taking into consideration the best interests of the child, the court determines that a party has overcome such presumption, the court shall make specific written findings indicating the amount of the order that would result from application of the guidelines; that the guidelines amount would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances; the specific facts of the case which justify departure from the guidelines; and that such departure is consistent with the best interests of the child. The order shall be modified accordingly unless the inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount of the order that would result from application of the guidelines is due to the fact that the amount of the existing order resulted from a rebuttal of the guidelines and that there has been no change in the circumstances which resulted in such rebuttal; provided, however, that even if the specific facts that justified departure from the guidelines upon entry of the existing order remain in effect, the order shall be modified in accordance with the guidelines unless the court finds that the guidelines amount would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances and that the existing order is consistent with the best interests of the child. A modification of child support may enter notwithstanding an agreement of the parents that has independent legal significance. If the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A is responsible for enforcing a case, an order may also be modified in accordance with the procedures set out in section 3B of said chapter 119A. The court may make appropriate orders of maintenance, support and education of any child who has attained age eighteen but who has not attained age twenty-one and who is domiciled in the home of a parent, and is principally dependent upon said parent for maintenance. The court may make appropriate orders of maintenance, support and education for any child who has attained age twenty-one but who has not attained age twenty-three, if such child is domiciled in the home of a parent, and is principally dependent upon said parent for maintenance due to the enrollment of such child in an educational program, excluding educational costs beyond an undergraduate degree. When the court makes an order for maintenance or support of a child, said court shall determine whether the obligor under such order has health insurance or other health coverage on a group plan available to him through an employer or organization or has health insurance or other health coverage available to him at a reasonable cost that may be extended to cover the child for whom support is ordered. When said court has determined that the obligor has such insurance or coverage available to him, said court shall include in the support order a requirement that the obligor exercise the option of additional coverage in favor of the child or obtain coverage for the child.

When a court makes an order for maintenance or support, the court shall determine whether the obligor under such order is responsible for the maintenance or support of any other children of the obligor, even if a court order for such maintenance or support does not exist, or whether the obligor under such order is under a preexisting order for the maintenance or support of any other children from a previous marriage, or whether the obligor under such order is under a preexisting order for the maintenance or support of any other children born out of wedlock. If the court determines that such responsibility does, in fact, exist and that such obligor is fulfilling such responsibility such court shall take into consideration such responsibility in setting the amount to paid under the current order for maintenance or support.

No court shall make an order providing visitation rights to a parent who has been convicted of murder in the first degree of the other parent of the child who is the subject of the order, unless such child is of suitable age to signify his assent and assents to such order; provided, further, that until such order is issued, no person shall visit, with the child present, a parent who has been convicted of murder in the first degree of the other parent of the child without the consent of the child’s custodian or legal guardian.

Chapter-209A-Abuse-Prevention

Section 1 – Definitions

As used in this chapter the following words shall have the following meanings:

“Abuse”, the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

(a) attempting to cause or causing physical harm;

(b) placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm;

(c) causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress.

“Court”, the superior, probate and family, district or Boston municipal court departments of the trial court, except when the petitioner is in a dating relationship when “Court” shall mean district, probate, or Boston municipal courts.

“Family or household members”, persons who:

(a) are or were married to one another;

(b) are or were residing together in the same household;

(c) are or were related by blood or marriage;

(d) having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or

(e) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be adjudged by district, probate or Boston municipal courts consideration of the following factors:

(1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; (3) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and (4) if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.

“Law officer”, any officer authorized to serve criminal process.

“Protection order issued by another jurisdiction”, any injunction or other order issued by a court of another state, territory or possession of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia, or tribal court that is issued for the purpose of preventing violent or threatening acts or harassment against, or contact or communication with or physical proximity to another person, including temporary and final orders issued by civil and criminal courts filed by or on behalf of a person seeking protection.

“Vacate order”, court order to leave and remain away from a premises and surrendering forthwith any keys to said premises to the plaintiff. The defendant shall not damage any of the plaintiff’s belongings or those of any other occupant and shall not shut off or cause to be shut off any utilities or mail delivery to the plaintiff. In the case where the premises designated in the vacate order is a residence, so long as the plaintiff is living at said residence, the defendant shall not interfere in any way with the plaintiff’s right to possess such residence, except by order or judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to appropriate civil eviction proceedings, a petition to partition real estate, or a proceeding to divide marital property. A vacate order may include in its scope a household, a multiple family dwelling and the plaintiff’s workplace. When issuing an order to vacate the plaintiff’s workplace, the presiding justice must consider whether the plaintiff and defendant work in the same location or for the same employer.

Section 2 – Venue

Proceedings under this chapter shall be filed, heard and determined in the superior court department or the Boston municipal court department or respective divisions of the probate and family or district court departments having venue over the plaintiff’s residence. If the plaintiff has left a residence or household to avoid abuse, such plaintiff shall have the option of commencing an action in the court having venue over such prior residence or household, or in the court having venue over the present residence or household.

Section 3 – Remedies; period of relief

A person suffering from abuse from an adult or minor family or household member may file a complaint in the court requesting protection from such abuse, including, but not limited to, the following orders:

(a) ordering the defendant to refrain from abusing the plaintiff, whether the defendant is an adult or minor;

(b) ordering the defendant to refrain from contacting the plaintiff, unless authorized by the court, whether the defendant is an adult or minor;

(c) ordering the defendant to vacate forthwith and remain away from the household, multiple family dwelling, and workplace. Notwithstanding the provisions of section thirty-four B of chapter two hundred and eight, an order to vacate shall be for a fixed period of time, not to exceed one year, at the expiration of which time the court may extend any such order upon motion of the plaintiff, with notice to the defendant, for such additional time as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff from abuse;

(d) awarding the plaintiff temporary custody of a minor child; provided, however, that in any case brought in the probate and family court a finding by such court by a preponderance of the evidence that a pattern or serious incident of abuse, as defined in section 31A of chapter 208, toward a parent or child has occurred shall create a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the best interests of the child to be placed in sole custody, shared legal custody or shared physical custody with the abusive parent. Such presumption may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence that such custody award is in the best interests of the child. For the purposes of this section, an “abusive parent” shall mean a parent who has committed a pattern of abuse or a serious incident of abuse;

For the purposes of this section, the issuance of an order or orders under chapter 209A shall not in and of itself constitute a pattern or serious incident of abuse; nor shall an order or orders entered ex parte under said chapter 209A be admissible to show whether a pattern or serious incident of abuse has in fact occurred; provided, however, that an order or orders entered ex parte under said chapter 209A may be admissible for other purposes as the court may determine, other than showing whether a pattern or serious incident of abuse has in fact occurred; provided further, that the underlying facts upon which an order or orders under said chapter 209A was based may also form the basis for a finding by the probate and family court that a pattern or serious incident of abuse has occurred.

If the court finds that a pattern or serious incident of abuse has occurred and issues a temporary or permanent custody order, the court shall within 90 days enter written findings of fact as to the effects of the abuse on the child, which findings demonstrate that such order is in the furtherance of the child’s best interests and provides for the safety and well-being of the child.

If ordering visitation to the abusive parent, the court shall provide for the safety and well-being of the child and the safety of the abused parent. The court may consider:

(a) ordering an exchange of the child to occur in a protected setting or in the presence of an appropriate third party;

(b) ordering visitation supervised by an appropriate third party, visitation center or agency;

(c) ordering the abusive parent to attend and complete, to the satisfaction of the court, a certified batterer’s treatment program as a condition of visitation;

(d) ordering the abusive parent to abstain from possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances during the visitation and for 24 hours preceding visitation;

(e) ordering the abusive parent to pay the costs of supervised visitation;

(f) prohibiting overnight visitation;

(g) requiring a bond from the abusive parent for the return and safety of the child;

(h) ordering an investigation or appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney for the child; and

(i) imposing any other condition that is deemed necessary to provide for the safety and well-being of the child and the safety of the abused parent.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the right of the parties to a hearing under the rules of domestic relations procedure or to affect the discretion of the probate and family court in the conduct of such hearing.

(e) ordering the defendant to pay temporary support for the plaintiff or any child in the plaintiff’s custody or both, when the defendant has a legal obligation to support such a person. In determining the amount to be paid, the court shall apply the standards established in the child support guidelines. Each judgment or order of support which is issued, reviewed or modified pursuant to this chapter shall conform to and shall be enforced in accordance with the provisions of section 12 of chapter 119A;

(f) ordering the defendant to pay the person abused monetary compensation for the losses suffered as a direct result of such abuse. Compensatory losses shall include, but not be limited to, loss of earnings or support, costs for restoring utilities, out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained, replacement costs for locks or personal property removed or destroyed, medical and moving expenses and reasonable attorney’s fees;

(g) ordering information in the case record to be impounded in accordance with court rule;

(h) ordering the defendant to refrain from abusing or contacting the plaintiff’s child, or child in plaintiff’s care or custody, unless authorized by the court;

(i) the judge may recommend to the defendant that the defendant attend a batterer’s intervention program that is certified by the department of public health.

No filing fee shall be charged for the filing of the complaint. Neither the plaintiff nor the plaintiff’s attorney shall be charged for certified copies of any orders entered by the court, or any copies of the file reasonably required for future court action or as a result of the loss or destruction of plaintiff’s copies.

Any relief granted by the court shall be for a fixed period of time not to exceed one year. Every order shall on its face state the time and date the order is to expire and shall include the date and time that the matter will again be heard. If the plaintiff appears at the court at the date and time the order is to expire, the court shall determine whether or not to extend the order for any additional time reasonably necessary to protect the plaintiff or to enter a permanent order. When the expiration date stated on the order is on a weekend day or holiday, or a date when the court is closed to business, the order shall not expire until the next date that the court is open to business. The plaintiff may appear on such next court business day at the time designated by the order to request that the order be extended. The court may also extend the order upon motion of the plaintiff, for such additional time as it deems necessary to protect from abuse the plaintiff or any child in the plaintiff’s care or custody. The fact that abuse has not occurred during the pendency of an order shall not, in itself, constitute sufficient ground for denying or failing to extend the order, of allowing an order to expire or be vacated, or for refusing to issue a new order.

The court may modify its order at any subsequent time upon motion by either party. When the plaintiff’s address is inaccessible to the defendant as provided in section 8 of this chapter and the defendant has filed a motion to modify the court’s order, the court shall be responsible for notifying the plaintiff. In no event shall the court disclose any such inaccessible address.

No order under this chapter shall in any manner affect title to real property.

No court shall compel parties to mediate any aspect of their case. Although the court may refer the case to the family service office of the probation department or victim/witness advocates for information gathering purposes, the court shall not compel the parties to meet together in such information gathering sessions.

A court shall not deny any complaint filed under this chapter solely because it was not filed within a particular time period after the last alleged incident of abuse.

A court may issue a mutual restraining order or mutual no-contact order pursuant to any abuse prevention action only if the court has made specific written findings of fact. The court shall then provide a detailed order, sufficiently specific to apprise any law officer as to which party has violated the order, if the parties are in or appear to be in violation of the order.

Any action commenced under the provisions of this chapter shall not preclude any other civil or criminal remedies. A party filing a complaint under this chapter shall be required to disclose any prior or pending actions involving the parties for divorce, annulment, paternity, custody or support, guardianship, separate support or legal separation, or abuse prevention.

If there is a prior or pending custody support order from the probate and family court department of the trial court, an order issued in the superior, district or Boston municipal court departments of the trial court pursuant to this chapter may include any relief available pursuant to this chapter except orders for custody or support.

If the parties to a proceeding under this chapter are parties in a subsequent proceeding in the probate and family court department for divorce, annulment, paternity, custody or support, guardianship or separate support, any custody or support order or judgment issued in the subsequent proceeding shall supersede any prior custody or support order under this chapter.

Section 3A – Nature of proceedings and availability of other criminal proceedings; information required to be given to complainant upon filing

Upon the filing of a complaint under this chapter, a complainant shall be informed that the proceedings hereunder are civil in nature and that violations of orders issued hereunder are criminal in nature. Further, a complainant shall be given information prepared by the appropriate district attorney’s office that other criminal proceedings may be available and such complainant shall be instructed by such district attorney’s office relative to the procedures required to initiate criminal proceedings including, but not limited to, a complaint for a violation of section forty-three of chapter two hundred and sixty-five. Whenever possible, a complainant shall be provided with such information in the complainant’s native language.

 

Section 3B – Order for suspension and surrender of firearms license; surrender of firearms; petition for review; hearing

Upon issuance of a temporary or emergency order under section four or five of this chapter, the court shall, if the plaintiff demonstrates a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse, order the immediate suspension and surrender of any license to carry firearms and or firearms identification card which the defendant may hold and order the defendant to surrender all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns and ammunition which he then controls, owns or possesses in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and any license to carry firearms or firearms identification cards which the defendant may hold shall be surrendered to the appropriate law enforcement officials in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and, said law enforcement official may store, transfer or otherwise dispose of any such weapon in accordance with the provisions of section 129D of chapter 140; provided however, that nothing herein shall authorize the transfer of any weapons surrendered by the defendant to anyone other than a licensed dealer. Notice of such suspension and ordered surrender shall be appended to the copy of abuse prevention order served on the defendant pursuant to section seven. Law enforcement officials, upon the service of said orders, shall immediately take possession of all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, ammunition, any license to carry firearms and any firearms identification cards in the control, ownership, or possession of said defendant. Any violation of such orders shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than two and one-half years in a house of correction, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Any defendant aggrieved by an order of surrender or suspension as described in the first sentence of this section may petition the court which issued such suspension or surrender order for a review of such action and such petition shall be heard no later than ten court business days after the receipt of the notice of the petition by the court. If said license to carry firearms or firearms identification card has been suspended upon the issuance of an order issued pursuant to section four or five, said petition may be heard contemporaneously with the hearing specified in the second sentence of the second paragraph of section four. Upon the filing of an affidavit by the defendant that a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or ammunition is required in the performance of the defendant’s employment, and upon a request for an expedited hearing, the court shall order said hearing within two business days of receipt of such affidavit and request but only on the issue of surrender and suspension pursuant to this section.

Section 3C- Continuation or modification of order for surrender or suspension

Upon the continuation or modification of an order issued pursuant to section 4 or upon petition for review as described in section 3B, the court shall also order or continue to order the immediate suspension and surrender of a defendant’s license to carry firearms, including a Class A or Class B license, and firearms identification card and the surrender of all firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns or ammunition which such defendant then controls, owns or possesses if the court makes a determination that the return of such license to carry firearms, including a Class A or Class B license, and firearm identification card or firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns or ammunition presents a likelihood of abuse to the plaintiff. A suspension and surrender order issued pursuant to this section shall continue so long as the restraining order to which it relates is in effect; and, any law enforcement official to whom such weapon is surrendered may store, transfer or otherwise dispose of any such weapon in accordance with the provisions of section 129D of chapter 140; provided, however, that nothing herein shall authorize the transfer of any weapons surrendered by the defendant to anyone other than a licensed dealer. Any violation of such order shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 or by imprisonment for not more than two and one-half years in a house of correction or by both such fine and imprisonment.

 

Section 4 – Temporary orders; notice; hearing

Upon the filing of a complaint under this chapter, the court may enter such temporary orders as it deems necessary to protect a plaintiff from abuse, including relief as provided in section three. Such relief shall not be contingent upon the filing of a complaint for divorce, separate support, or paternity action.

If the plaintiff demonstrates a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse, the court may enter such temporary relief orders without notice as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff from abuse and shall immediately thereafter notify the defendant that the temporary orders have been issued. The court shall give the defendant an opportunity to be heard on the question of continuing the temporary order and of granting other relief as requested by the plaintiff no later than ten court business days after such orders are entered.

Notice shall be made by the appropriate law enforcement agency as provided in section seven.

If the defendant does not appear at such subsequent hearing, the temporary orders shall continue in effect without further order of the court.

Section 5 – Granting of relief when court closed; certification

When the court is closed for business or the plaintiff is unable to appear in court because of severe hardship due to the plaintiff’s physical condition, any justice of the superior, probate and family, district or Boston municipal court departments may grant relief to the plaintiff as provided under section four if the plaintiff demonstrates a substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse. In the discretion of the justice, such relief may be granted and communicated by telephone to an officer or employee of an appropriate law enforcement agency, who shall record such order on a form of order promulgated for such use by the chief administrative justice and shall deliver a copy of such order on the next court day to the clerk-magistrate of the court having venue and jurisdiction over the matter. If relief has been granted without the filing of a complaint pursuant to this section of this chapter, then the plaintiff shall appear in court on the next available business day to file said complaint. If the plaintiff in such a case is unable to appear in court without severe hardship due to the plaintiff’s physical condition, then a representative may appear in court on the plaintiff’s behalf and file the requisite complaint with an affidavit setting forth the circumstances preventing the plaintiff from appearing personally. Notice to the plaintiff and defendant and an opportunity for the defendant to be heard shall be given as provided in said section four.

Any order issued under this section and any documentation in support thereof shall be certified on the next court day by the clerk-magistrate or register of the court issuing such order to the court having venue and jurisdiction over the matter. Such certification to the court shall have the effect of commencing proceedings under this chapter and invoking the other provisions of this chapter but shall not be deemed necessary for an emergency order issued under this section to take effect.

Section 5A – Protection order issued by another jurisdiction; enforcement; filing; presumption of validity

Any protection order issued by another jurisdiction, as defined in section one, shall be given full faith and credit throughout the commonwealth and enforced as if it were issued in the commonwealth for as long as the order is in effect in the issuing jurisdiction.

A person entitled to protection under a protection order issued by another jurisdiction may file such order in the superior court department or the Boston municipal court department or any division of the probate and family or district court departments by filing with the court a certified copy of such order which shall be entered into the statewide domestic violence record keeping system established pursuant to the provisions of section seven of chapter one hundred and eighty-eight of the acts of nineteen hundred and ninety-two and maintained by the office of the commissioner of probation. Such person shall swear under oath in an affidavit, to the best of such person’s knowledge, that such order is presently in effect as written. Upon request by a law enforcement agency, the register or clerk of such court shall provide a certified copy of the protection order issued by the other jurisdiction.

A law enforcement officer may presume the validity of, and enforce in accordance with section six, a copy of a protection order issued by another jurisdiction which has been provided to the law enforcement officer by any source; provided, however, that the officer is also provided with a statement by the person protected by the order that such order remains in effect. Law enforcement officers may rely on such statement by the person protected by such order.

Section 6 – Powers of police

Whenever any law officer has reason to believe that a family or household member has been abused or is in danger of being abused, such officer shall use all reasonable means to prevent further abuse. The officer shall take, but not be limited to the following action:

(1) remain on the scene of where said abuse occurred or was in danger of occurring as long as the officer has reason to believe that at least one of the parties involved would be in immediate physical danger without the presence of a law officer. This shall include, but not be limited to remaining in the dwelling for a reasonable period of time;

(2) assist the abused person in obtaining medical treatment necessitated by an assault, which may include driving the victim to the emergency room of the nearest hospital, or arranging for appropriate transportation to a health care facility, notwithstanding any law to the contrary;

(3) assist the abused person in locating and getting to a safe place; including but not limited to a designated meeting place for a shelter or a family member’s or friend’s residence. The officer shall consider the victim’s preference in this regard and what is reasonable under all the circumstances;

(4) give such person immediate and adequate notice of his or her rights. Such notice shall consist of handing said person a copy of the statement which follows below and reading the same to said person. Where said person’s native language is not English, the statement shall be then provided in said person’s native language whenever possible.

“You have the right to appear at the Superior, Probate and Family, District or Boston Municipal Court, if you reside within the appropriate jurisdiction, and file a complaint requesting any of the following applicable orders: (a) an order restraining your attacker from abusing you; (b) an order directing your attacker to leave your household, building or workplace; (c) an order awarding you custody of a minor child; (d) an order directing your attacker to pay support for you or any minor child in your custody, if the attacker has a legal obligation of support; and (e) an order directing your attacker to pay you for losses suffered as a result of abuse, including medical and moving expenses, loss of earnings or support, costs for restoring utilities and replacing locks, reasonable attorney’s fees and other out-of-pocket losses for injuries and property damage sustained.

For an emergency on weekends, holidays, or weeknights the police will refer you to a justice of the superior, probate and family, district, or Boston municipal court departments.

You have the right to go to the appropriate district court or the Boston municipal court and seek a criminal complaint for threats, assault and battery, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with intent to kill or other related offenses.

If you are in need of medical treatment, you have the right to request that an officer present drive you to the nearest hospital or otherwise assist you in obtaining medical treatment.

If you believe that police protection is needed for your physical safety, you have the right to request that the officer present remain at the scene until you and your children can leave or until your safety is otherwise ensured. You may also request that the officer assist you in locating and taking you to a safe place, including but not limited to a designated meeting place for a shelter or a family member’s or a friend’s residence, or a similar place of safety.

You may request a copy of the police incident report at no cost from the police department.”

The officer shall leave a copy of the foregoing statement with such person before leaving the scene or premises.

(5) assist such person by activating the emergency judicial system when the court is closed for business;

(6) inform the victim that the abuser will be eligible for bail and may be promptly released; and

(7) arrest any person a law officer witnesses or has probable cause to believe has violated a temporary or permanent vacate, restraining, or no-contact order or judgment issued pursuant to section eighteen, thirty-four B or thirty-four C of chapter two hundred and eight, section thirty-two of chapter two hundred and nine, section three, three B, three C, four or five of this chapter, or sections fifteen or twenty of chapter two hundred and nine C or similar protection order issued by another jurisdiction. When there are no vacate, restraining, or no-contact orders or judgments in effect, arrest shall be the preferred response whenever an officer witnesses or has probable cause to believe that a person:

(a) has committed a felony;

(b) has committed a misdemeanor involving abuse as defined in section one of this chapter;

(c) has committed an assault and battery in violation of section thirteen A of chapter two hundred and sixty-five.

The safety of the victim and any involved children shall be paramount in any decision to arrest. Any officer arresting both parties must submit a detailed, written report in addition to an incident report, setting forth the grounds for dual arrest.

No law officer investigating an incident of domestic violence shall threaten, suggest, or otherwise indicate the arrest of all parties for the purpose of discouraging requests for law enforcement intervention by any party.

No law officer shall be held liable in any civil action regarding personal injury or injury to property brought by any party to a domestic violence incident for an arrest based on probable cause when such officer acted reasonably and in good faith and in compliance with this chapter and the statewide policy as established by the secretary of public safety.

[ Fifth paragraph effective until November 4, 2010. For text effective November 4, 2010, see below.]

Whenever any law officer investigates an incident of domestic violence, the officer shall immediately file a written incident report in accordance with the standards of the officer’s law enforcement agency and, wherever possible, in the form of the National Incident-Based Reporting System, as defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The latter information may be submitted voluntarily by the local police on a monthly basis to the crime reporting unit of the criminal history systems board.

[ Fifth paragraph as amended by 2010, 256, Sec. 103 effective November 4, 2010. For text effective until November 4, 2010, see above.]

Whenever any law officer investigates an incident of domestic violence, the officer shall immediately file a written incident report in accordance with the standards of the officer’s law enforcement agency and, wherever possible, in the form of the National Incident-Based Reporting System, as defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The latter information may be submitted voluntarily by the local police on a monthly basis to the crime reporting unit of the department of criminal justice information services.

The victim shall be provided a copy of the full incident report at no cost upon request to the appropriate law enforcement department.

When a judge or other person authorized to take bail bails any person arrested under the provisions of this chapter, he shall make reasonable efforts to inform the victim of such release prior to or at the time of said release.

When any person charged with or arrested for a crime involving abuse under this chapter is released from custody, the court or the emergency response judge shall issue, upon the request of the victim, a written no-contact order prohibiting the person charged or arrested from having any contact with the victim and shall use all reasonable means to notify the victim immediately of release from custody. The victim shall be given at no cost a certified copy of the no-contact order.

Section 7 – Abuse prevention orders; domestic violence record search; service of order; enforcement; violations

When considering a complaint filed under this chapter, a judge shall cause a search to be made of the records contained within the statewide domestic violence record keeping system maintained by the office of the commissioner of probation and shall review the resulting data to determine whether the named defendant has a civil or criminal record involving domestic or other violence. Upon receipt of information that an outstanding warrant exists against the named defendant, a judge shall order that the appropriate law enforcement officials be notified and shall order that any information regarding the defendant’s most recent whereabouts shall be forwarded to such officials. In all instances where an outstanding warrant exists, a judge shall make a finding, based upon all of the circumstances, as to whether an imminent threat of bodily injury exists to the petitioner. In all instances where such an imminent threat of bodily injury is found to exist, the judge shall notify the appropriate law enforcement officials of such finding and such officials shall take all necessary actions to execute any such outstanding warrant as soon as is practicable.

Whenever the court orders under sections eighteen, thirty-four B, and thirty-four C of chapter two hundred and eight, section thirty-two of chapter two hundred and nine, sections three, four and five of this chapter, or sections fifteen and twenty of chapter two hundred and nine C, the defendant to vacate, refrain from abusing the plaintiff or to have no contact with the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s minor child, the register or clerk-magistrate shall transmit two certified copies of each such order and one copy of the complaint and summons forthwith to the appropriate law enforcement agency which, unless otherwise ordered by the court, shall serve one copy of each order upon the defendant, together with a copy of the complaint, order and summons and notice of any suspension or surrender ordered pursuant to section three B of this chapter. The law enforcement agency shall promptly make its return of service to the court.

Law enforcement officers shall use every reasonable means to enforce such abuse prevention orders. Law enforcement agencies shall establish procedures adequate to insure that an officer on the scene of an alleged violation of such order may be informed of the existence and terms of such order. The court shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency in writing whenever any such order is vacated and shall direct the agency to destroy all record of such vacated order and such agency shall comply with that directive.

Each abuse prevention order issued shall contain the following statement: VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.

Any violation of such order or a protection order issued by another jurisdiction shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than two and one-half years in a house of correction, or by both such fine and imprisonment. In addition to, but not in lieu of, the forgoing penalties and any other sentence, fee or assessment, including the victim witness assessment in section 8 of chapter 258B, the court shall order persons convicted of a crime under this statute to pay a fine of $25 that shall be transmitted to the treasurer for deposit into the General Fund. For any violation of such order, the court shall order the defendant to complete a certified batterer’s intervention program unless, upon good cause shown, the court issues specific written findings describing the reasons that batterer’s intervention should not be ordered or unless the batterer’s intervention program determines that the defendant is not suitable for intervention. The court shall not order substance abuse or anger management treatment or any other form of treatment as a substitute for certified batterer’s intervention. If a defendant ordered to undergo treatment has received a suspended sentence, the original sentence shall be reimposed if the defendant fails to participate in said program as required by the terms of his probation. If the court determines that the violation was in retaliation for the defendant being reported by the plaintiff to the department of revenue for failure to pay child support payments or for the establishment of paternity, the defendant shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars and not more than ten thousand dollars and by imprisonment for not less than sixty days; provided, however, that the sentence shall not be suspended, nor shall any such person be eligible for probation, parole, or furlough or receive any deduction from his sentence for good conduct until he shall have served sixty days of such sentence.

When a defendant has been ordered to participate in a treatment program pursuant to this section, the defendant shall be required to regularly attend a certified or provisionally certified batterer’s treatment program. To the extent permitted by professional requirements of confidentiality, said program shall communicate with local battered women’s programs for the purpose of protecting the victim’s safety. Additionally, it shall specify the defendant’s attendance requirements and keep the probation department informed of whether the defendant is in compliance.

In addition to, but not in lieu of, such orders for treatment, if the defendant has a substance abuse problem, the court may order appropriate treatment for such problem. All ordered treatment shall last until the end of the probationary period or until the treatment program decides to discharge the defendant, whichever comes first. When the defendant is not in compliance with the terms of probation, the court shall hold a revocation of probation hearing. To the extent possible, the defendant shall be responsible for paying all costs for court ordered treatment.

Where a defendant has been found in violation of an abuse prevention order under this chapter or a protection order issued by another jurisdiction, the court may, in addition to the penalties provided for in this section after conviction, as an alternative to incarceration and, as a condition of probation, prohibit contact with the victim through the establishment of court defined geographic exclusion zones including, but not limited to, the areas in and around the complainant’s residence, place of employment, and the complainant’s child’s school, and order that the defendant to wear a global positioning satellite tracking device designed to transmit and record the defendant’s location data. If the defendant enters a court defined exclusion zone, the defendant’s location data shall be immediately transmitted to the complainant, and to the police, through an appropriate means including, but not limited to, the telephone, an electronic beeper or a paging device. The global positioning satellite device and its tracking shall be administered by the department of probation. If a court finds that the defendant has entered a geographic exclusion zone, it shall revoke his probation and the defendant shall be fined, imprisoned or both as provided in this section. Based on the defendant’s ability to pay, the court may also order him to pay the monthly costs or portion thereof for monitoring through the global positioning satellite tracking system.

In each instance where there is a violation of an abuse prevention order or a protection order issued by another jurisdiction, the court may order the defendant to pay the plaintiff for all damages including, but not limited to, cost for shelter or emergency housing, loss of earnings or support, out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained or property damaged, medical expenses, moving expenses, cost for obtaining an unlisted telephone number, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

Any such violation may be enforced in the superior, the district or Boston municipal court departments. Criminal remedies provided herein are not exclusive and do not preclude any other available civil or criminal remedies. The superior, probate and family, district and Boston municipal court departments may each enforce by civil contempt procedure a violation of its own court order.

The provisions of section eight of chapter one hundred and thirty-six shall not apply to any order, complaint or summons issued pursuant to this section.

Section 8 – Confidentiality of records

The records of cases arising out of an action brought under the provisions of this chapter where the plaintiff or defendant is a minor shall be withheld from public inspection except by order of the court; provided, that such records shall be open, at all reasonable times, to the inspection of the minor, said minor’s parent, guardian, attorney, and to the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s attorney, or any of them.

The plaintiff’s residential address, residential telephone number and workplace name, address and telephone number, contained within the court records of cases arising out of an action brought by a plaintiff under the provisions of this chapter, shall be confidential and withheld from public inspection, except by order of the court, except that the plaintiff’s residential address and workplace address shall appear on the court order and accessible to the defendant and the defendant’s attorney unless the plaintiff specifically requests that this information be withheld from the order. All confidential portions of the records shall be accessible at all reasonable times to the plaintiff and plaintiff’s attorney, to others specifically authorized by the plaintiff to obtain such information, and to prosecutors, victim-witness advocates as defined in section 1 of chapter 258B, domestic violence victim’s counselors as defined in section 20K of chapter 233, sexual assault counselors as defined in section 20J of chapter 233, and law enforcement officers, if such access is necessary in the performance of their duties. The provisions of this paragraph shall apply to any protection order issued by another jurisdiction, as defined in section 1, that is filed with a court of the commonwealth pursuant to section 5A. Such confidential portions of the court records shall not be deemed to be public records under the provisions of clause twenty-sixth of section 7 of chapter 4.

Section 9 – Form of complaint; promulgation

The administrative justices of the superior court, probate and family court, district court, and the Boston municipal court departments shall jointly promulgate a form of complaint for use under this chapter which shall be in such form and language to permit a plaintiff to prepare and file such complaint pro se.

Section 10 – Assessments against persons referred to certified batterers’ treatment program as condition of probation

The court shall impose an assessment of three hundred and fifty dollars against any person who has been referred to a certified batterers’ treatment program as a condition of probation. Said assessment shall be in addition to the cost of the treatment program. In the discretion of the court, said assessment may be reduced or waived when the court finds that the person is indigent or that payment of the assessment would cause the person, or the dependents of such person, severe financial hardship. Assessments made pursuant to this section shall be in addition to any other fines, assessments, or restitution imposed in any disposition. All funds collected by the court pursuant to this section shall be transmitted monthly to the state treasurer, who shall deposit said funds in the General Fund.

Chapter 209C Children Born Out Of  Wedlock

Section 1: Declaration of purpose; definition; responsibility for support

Section 1. Children born to parents who are not married to each other shall be entitled to the same rights and protections of the law as all other children. It is the purpose of this chapter to establish a means for such children either to be acknowledged by their parents voluntarily or, on complaint by one or the other of their parents or such other person or agency as is authorized to file a complaint by section five, to have an acknowledgment or adjudication of their paternity, to have an order for their support and to have a declaration relative to their custody or visitation rights ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction. For the purpose of this chapter, the term “child born out of wedlock” shall refer to any child born to a man and woman who are not married to each other and shall include a child who was conceived and born to parents who are not married to each other but who subsequently intermarry and whose paternity has not been acknowledged by word or deed or whose paternity has not been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction; and a child born to parents who are not married to each other whose paternity has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction, including an adjudication in a proceeding pursuant to this chapter or prior law. Every person is responsible for the support of his child born out of wedlock from its birth up to the age of eighteen, or, where such child is domiciled in the home of a parent and principally dependent upon said parent for maintenance, to age twenty-one. Each person charged with support under this section shall be required to furnish support according to his financial ability and earning capacity pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

Section 2: Paternity; acknowledgment or adjudication; statistical information of parties; transmission to registrar

Section 2. Paternity may be established by filing with the court, the clerk of the city or town where the child was born or the registrar of vital records and statistics an acknowledgment of parentage executed by both parents pursuant to section 11 or pursuant to an action to establish paternity filed pursuant to this chapter; provided, however, that if a judgment or finding of paternity has been issued by a court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction under the law of another state or foreign country or if both parents executed a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage in accordance with the law of another state or foreign country, such judgment, finding or voluntary acknowledgment shall be accorded full faith and credit and paternity shall not be relitigated. Upon receipt of an acknowledgment of paternity, the clerk of such city or town shall forward the original acknowledgment to said registrar as provided in chapter 46. Upon receipt of an acknowledgment of parentage or upon an adjudication of paternity under this chapter, the court shall transmit to the registrar of vital records and statistics a certified copy of the acknowledgment or order establishing paternity, together with such statistical information as said registrar may require, upon such form and in such format as designated by said registrar, which shall include the name, residence, date of birth, place of birth and social security number of each of the parties and the child, the sex of the child, and such additional information as the commissioner of public health deems useful for statistical and research purposes. Actions to establish support obligations or for custody or visitation rights may also be filed pursuant to this chapter.

Section 3: Paternity and support actions; jurisdiction; enforcement of prior orders or judgments; juvenile court commitment proceedings; parents convicted of first degree murder

Section 3. (a) The district, Boston municipal and the probate and family court departments of the trial court shall have concurrent jurisdiction over complaints to establish paternity or support and the registration of voluntary acknowledgments of parentage; provided, however, that the district and Boston municipal court departments shall have no jurisdiction of custody or visitation matters under this chapter. Complaints to establish paternity or support or for voluntary acknowledgments of parentage which also include a request for an order relative to custody or visitation shall be filed only in the probate and family court department. No court shall make an order providing visitation rights to any parent who has been convicted of murder in the first degree of the other parent of the child who is the subject of the order, unless such child is of suitable age to signify his assent and assents to such order; provided, further, that until such order is issued, no person shall visit, with the child present, a parent who has been convicted of murder in the first degree of the other parent of the child without the consent of the child’s custodian or legal guardian.

(b) Any party to an action for paternity or support which is pending or was previously adjudicated by the district or Boston municipal court departments who seeks an order relative to custody or visitation may, after the adjudication or voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and entry of an order or judgment for support, file an action in the probate and family court department in the county where the child resides to determine custody or visitation. The filing of the action in the probate and family court shall act to transfer the case from the district court or the Boston municipal court department to the probate and family court department. The register of probate shall make entry in the docket that the case shall thereafter be heard only in the probate and family court department. The party seeking transfer shall notify the parties, the district court or the Boston municipal court and, if applicable, the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A that the action has been transferred to the probate and family court department. The clerk magistrate of the district court or the Boston municipal court shall make entry in the docket of such transfer.

(c) The juvenile court department shall have concurrent jurisdiction to adjudicate paternity and support and to accept registration of voluntary acknowledgments of parentage under this chapter, provided that actions brought under this chapter are joined or consolidated with actions brought under section twenty-four of chapter one hundred and nineteen and, provided further, that the action under section twenty-four of chapter one hundred and nineteen is initiated before the filing of a complaint under this chapter.

(d) Any action pursuant to this chapter that is pending or was previously adjudicated in the district court or Boston municipal court departments may be transferred by any party or by the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A to the probate and family court department in the county where the child resides or, if the child does not reside in the commonwealth and a court of the commonwealth has jurisdiction under chapter 209D, in the county where one of the parents resides. An action shall be transferred upon the filing of the following documents with the probate and family court:— (1) a copy of the complaint; (2) a copy of the order of the district court or Boston municipal court, if any; (3) a copy of the findings of the court, if any; (4) a copy of the financial statements submitted by the parties, if any; (5) a copy of the worksheet used to calculate the amount of the child support order pursuant to the child support guidelines, if any; and (6) a copy of the docket maintained by the district court or the Boston municipal court, if any. Once transferred, the order of the district court or the Boston municipal court shall have the same force and effect, and shall be subject to the same procedures and defenses as an order of the probate and family court and may be enforced or modified in the same manner available to enforce or modify any judgment or order of the probate and family court. Transfer of an order pursuant to this section shall not limit the use of any enforcement remedy, whether judicial or administrative, that may be available and the probate and family court shall preserve all arrears that have accrued pursuant to the order of the district or Boston municipal court departments.

(e) An order or judgment for support entered in the juvenile court department shall remain in full force and effect and shall be enforced in the division of the juvenile court department in which the original order or judgment of support was entered during the pendency of an action pursuant to section twenty-four of chapter one hundred and nineteen. Six months after the dismissal or final order of commitment pursuant to section twenty-four of chapter one hundred and nineteen, the order or judgment of support shall expire. At the time of such dismissal or final order of commitment, the clerk-magistrate shall notify the parties and the IV-D agency, as set forth in chapter one hundred and nineteen A, of the date of expiration of the support order or judgment. If, before the expiration of the order or judgment of support, any of the parties or said IV-D agency files an action for support in the Boston municipal court department or the appropriate division of the district or probate and family court departments, the prior order or judgment shall be transferred to that court department and shall remain in full force and effect and shall be enforced and modified in said court department.

Section 4:Venue; service  

Section 4. Actions under this chapter to establish paternity, support, custody or visitation of a child shall be filed in the judicial district or county in which the child and 1 of the parents lives and if neither of the parents lives in the same judicial district or county as the child then the complaint shall be filed in the judicial district or county where the child lives; but, if the parents have been parties to a prior action under this chapter and that action has not been dismissed, a subsequent action under this chapter may be filed in the judicial district or county where the earlier action was filed. The fact that the child was conceived, was born, or lives outside the commonwealth does not bar a proceeding to establish paternity pursuant to this chapter. Service of the complaint shall be made in accordance with applicable rules of court. In addition to those otherwise authorized to serve civil process, any officer authorized under the laws of the commonwealth to serve criminal process may serve any process under this chapter

Section 5: Persons entitled to maintain actions or execute voluntary acknowledgment of parentage; parties

Section 5. (a) Complaints under this chapter to establish paternity, support, visitation or custody of a child may be commenced by the mother, whether a minor or not; by a person presumed to be or alleging himself to be the father, whether a minor or not; by the child, whether a minor or not; by the child’s guardian, next of kin, or other person standing in a parental relation to the child; by the parent or personal representative of the mother if the mother has died or has abandoned the child; by the parent or personal representative of the father if the father has died; by the authorized agent of the department of children and families or any agency licensed under chapter 15D provided that the child is in their custody; or, if the child is or was a recipient of any type of public assistance, by the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A on behalf of the department of transitional assistance, the department of children and families, the division of medical assistance or any other public assistance program of the commonwealth; provided, however, that if the mother of the child was or is married and the child’s birth occurs during the marriage or within three hundred days of its termination by death, annulment or divorce, complaints to establish paternity under this chapter may not be filed by a person presumed to be or alleging himself to be the father unless he is or was the mother’s husband at the time of the child’s birth or conception.

(b) Voluntary acknowledgments of parentage may be executed by the mother and the putative father, whether either or both is a minor, and may be registered pursuant to section 11 only if the signatures of the mother and the father are notarized. If the mother of the child was or is married and the child’s birth occurs during the marriage or within 300 days of its termination by divorce, a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage naming the putative father may be executed by the mother and the putative father only if the mother and the person who was the spouse of the mother at the time of the child’s birth or conception sign an affidavit denying that the spouse is the father of the child; provided, however, that where the marriage has been terminated by annulment or by the death of either spouse, paternity of the putative father may only be established by filing a complaint to establish paternity as provided in this chapter. A mother and a putative father signing a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage at the hospital or thereafter at the office of the city or town clerk as part of the birth registration process pursuant to section 3C of chapter 46, with the department of transitional assistance, with the IV-D agency set forth in chapter 119A, with any agency designated by the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services or with any official of a court shall receive notice orally, or through the use of video or audio equipment, and in writing of alternatives to signing the acknowledgment, including the availability of genetic marker testing, as well as the benefits and responsibilities with respect to child support, custody and visitation that may arise from signing the acknowledgment, and subsequently filing the acknowledgment with the court or with the registrar of vital records and statistics as provided in this chapter.

(c) Any agency or person living with such child who is actually furnishing support to the child or, if the child who is the subject of an action under this chapter is a recipient of public assistance, the department of transitional assistance, shall be made a party to any action for paternity or support under this chapter.

(d) The IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A on behalf of the department of transitional assistance, the department of children and families, the division of medical assistance or any other public assistance program may not file complaints solely for custody or visitation, but shall be permitted to file actions for paternity or support; provided, however, that said IV-D agency shall be permitted to maintain an action for paternity or support even if issues related to custody or visitation are raised.

(e) In actions under this chapter relative to custody or visitation, the child, if the child is fourteen years of age or older, shall be made a party to such action.

  Section 6: Presumption of paternity; mandatory joinder

Section 6. (a) In all actions under this chapter a man is presumed to be the father of a child and must be joined as a party if:

(1) he is or has been married to the mother and the child was born during the marriage, or within three hundred days after the marriage was terminated by death, annulment or divorce; or

(2) before the child’s birth, he married or attempted to marry the mother by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child was born during the attempted marriage or within three hundred days after its termination; or

(3) after the child’s birth, he married or attempted to marry the mother by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and

(i) he agreed to support the child under a written voluntary promise, or

(ii) he has engaged in any other conduct which can be construed as an acknowledgment of paternity; or

(4) while the child is under the age of majority, he, jointly with the mother, received the child into their home and openly held out the child as their child; or

(5) he has acknowledged paternity in a parental responsibility claim as provided in section four A of chapter two hundred and ten and the mother, having received actual notice thereof, has failed within a reasonable time, to object thereto; or

(6) with respect to a child born before April 13, 1994, with his consent and the consent of the child’s mother, he is named as the child’s father on the birth certificate as provided in section one of chapter forty-six.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), a husband or former husband shall not be required to be joined as a party if non-paternity of the child has previously been adjudicated in a proceeding between the husband and the mother of such child in a court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction.

(c) Notice to a party joined as herein provided shall be sufficient if the summons is mailed to the last known address by a form of mail requiring a receipt and, if actual notice shall not be made as aforesaid, by publishing a copy of the notice once in each of three successive weeks in a newspaper designated by the court

Section 7: Representation in paternity actions; appointment of counsel; burden of proof

Section 7. Actions under this chapter shall be civil actions. The IV-D agency, as set forth in chapter one hundred and nineteen A, may appear on behalf of a plaintiff in an action to establish paternity. In actions in which custody or visitation are contested, court may appoint counsel to represent either party whenever the interests of justice require.

The burden of proof in proceedings under this chapter to establish paternity shall be by clear and convincing evidence.

Section 8:Judgment of paternity; age of father; notice

Section 8. On complaint to establish paternity, the court shall make a judgment establishing or not establishing paternity which shall be determinative for all purposes. Upon default of the defendant or his failure to personally appear, the court shall make a judgment establishing paternity if a showing is made that the complaint was served in accordance with the applicable rules of court and that the mother or putative father submits that sexual intercourse between the parties occurred during the probable period of conception. For good cause shown, the court may set aside an entry of default and, if a judgment has been entered, may likewise set it aside in accordance with rule 60(b) of the Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure. The age of the person alleged to be the father or mother in any action under this chapter, including a filing of a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage, shall not be a bar to the establishment of paternity or entry of a support order pursuant to section nine. If the child or the mother on behalf of the child is a recipient of public assistance and if the department of transitional assistance, the department of children and families, the division of medical assistance or any other public assistance program has not been made a party as required by section five, the court shall notify the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A of the judgment. If the judgment is at variance with the child’s birth certificate, the court shall order that a new birth certificate be issued under section thirteen of chapter forty-six.

Section 9: Judgment or order for support; health insurance; financial statement; determination of amount; notice

Section 9. (a) If the court finds that a parent is chargeable with the support of a child, the court shall make an order in accordance with subsection (c) requiring a parent to pay weekly or at other fixed periods a sum for and toward the current support and maintenance of such child. The court may make appropriate orders of maintenance, support and education for any child who has attained age eighteen but who has not attained age twenty-one, who is domiciled in the home of a parent and is principally dependent upon said parent for maintenance. The court may make appropriate orders of maintenance, support and education for any child who has attained age twenty-one but who has not attained age twenty-three if such child is domiciled in the home of a parent, and is principally dependent upon said parent for maintenance due to the enrollment of such child in an educational program, excluding educational costs beyond an undergraduate degree. Upon the petition of a party, the court shall also order past support for the period from the birth of the child to the entry of the order, taking into consideration the parent’s ability to pay under subsection (c) and any support provided by the parent during such period. An order or judgment of support pursuant to this chapter shall be entered notwithstanding the default of the defendant or his failure to appear personally upon a showing that notice was served in accordance with the applicable rules of court. For good cause shown, the court may set aside an entry of default and, if a judgment has been entered, may likewise set it aside in accordance with rule 60(b) of the Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure. When the court makes an order or judgment for maintenance or support of a child, said court shall determine whether the obligor under such order or judgment has health insurance or other health coverage available to him through an employer or organization or has health insurance or other health coverage available to him at reasonable cost that may be extended to cover the child for whom support is ordered. When said court has determined that the obligor has such insurance or coverage available to him, said court shall include in the support judgment or order a requirement that the obligor exercise the option of additional coverage in favor of the child or obtain coverage for the child. An order may be entered requiring a parent chargeable with support to reimburse the mother or the department of transitional assistance or the division of medical assistance or division of health care finance and policy for medical expenses attributable to the child or associated with childbirth or resulting from the pregnancy.

(b) Upon demand by either party, including the IV-D agency, the other party shall be compelled to provide a financial statement, except that the IV-D agency shall not be compelled to provide a financial statement for a recipient of public assistance, and, provided further, if no party makes such a demand, the court may require a financial statement of each party.

(c) In determining the amount of the child support obligation or in approving the agreement of the parties, the court shall apply the child support guidelines promulgated by the chief justice for administration and management. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the amount resulting from application of the guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support to be ordered. If, after taking into consideration the best interests of the child, the court determines that a party has overcome such presumption, the court shall make specific written findings indicating the amount of the order that would result from application of the guidelines; that the guidelines amount would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances; the specific facts of the case which justify departure from the guidelines; and that such departure is consistent with the best interests of the child. In the event that no child support guidelines are in effect, the court shall make such order as is in the best interests of the child, taking into consideration the financial ability and earning capacity of the parents of the child.

(d) It shall not be a defense that the parent from whom support is sought has ceased to have custody or the right to custody of a minor child for whom support is sought, or that the custodial parent is interfering with the other parent’s right of visitation.

(e) If the child on whose behalf an order of support is sought is a recipient of benefits pursuant to chapter 117, 118 or 119 and the department of transitional assistance, the department of children and families, the division of medical assistance or any other public assistance program has not been made a party as required by section 5, the court shall notify the IV-D agency of the order or judgment of support.

(f) In determining the amount to be paid, the court, in addition to applying the standards established by the chief justice for administration and management, shall determine whether the obligor is responsible for the maintenance or support of any other children of the obligor even if a court order for such maintenance or support does not exist. If the court determines that such responsibility does, in fact, exist and that such obligor is fulfilling such responsibility, such court shall take into consideration such responsibility in setting the amount to be paid under the current order for maintenance or support.

Section 10:Award of custody; criteria

Section 10. (a) Upon or after an adjudication or voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, the court may award custody to the mother or the father or to them jointly or to another suitable person as hereafter further specified as may be appropriate in the best interests of the child.

In awarding custody to one of the parents, the court shall, to the extent possible, preserve the relationship between the child and the primary caretaker parent. The court shall also consider where and with whom the child has resided within the six months immediately preceding proceedings pursuant to this chapter and whether one or both of the parents has established a personal and parental relationship with the child or has exercised parental responsibility in the best interests of the child.

In awarding the parents joint custody, the court shall do so only if the parents have entered into an agreement pursuant to section eleven or the court finds that the parents have successfully exercised joint responsibility for the child prior to the commencement of proceedings pursuant to this chapter and have the ability to communicate and plan with each other concerning the child’s best interests.

(b) Prior to or in the absence of an adjudication or voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, the mother shall have custody of a child born out of wedlock. In the absence of an order or judgment of a probate and family court relative to custody, the mother shall continue to have custody of a child after an adjudication of paternity or voluntary acknowledgment of parentage.

(c) If either parent is dead, unfit or unavailable or relinquishes care of the child or abandons the child and the other parent is fit to have custody, that parent shall be entitled to custody.

(d) If a person who is not a parent of the child requests custody, the court may order custody to that person if it is in the best interests of the child and if the written consent of both parents or the surviving parent is filed with the court. Such custody may also be ordered if it is in the best interests of the child and if both parents or the surviving parent are unfit to have custody or if one is unfit and the other files his written consent in court.

(e) In issuing any temporary or permanent custody order, the probate and family court shall consider evidence of past or present abuse toward a parent or child as a factor contrary to the best interest of the child. For the purposes of this section, “abuse” shall mean the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between a parent and the other parent or between a parent and child: (a) attempting to cause or causing bodily injury; or (b) placing another in reasonable fear of imminent bodily injury. “Serious incident of abuse” shall mean the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between a parent and the other parent or between a parent and child: (a) attempting to cause or causing serious bodily injury; (b) placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or (c) causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress. For purposes of this section, “bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury” shall have the same meanings as provided in section 13K of chapter 265.

A probate and family court’s finding by a preponderance of the evidence, that a pattern or serious incident of abuse has occurred shall create a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the best interests of the child to be placed in sole custody, shared legal custody, or shared physical custody with the abusive parent. Such presumption may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence that such custody award is in the best interests of the child. For the purposes of this section, an “abusive parent” shall mean a parent who has committed a pattern of abuse or a serious incident of abuse.

For the purposes of this section, the issuance of an order or orders under chapter 209A shall not in and of itself constitute a pattern or serious incident of abuse; nor shall an order or orders entered ex parte under said chapter 209A be admissible to show whether a pattern or serious incident of abuse has in fact occurred; provided, however, that an order or orders entered ex parte under said chapter 209A may be admissible for other purposes as the court may determine, other than showing whether a pattern or serious incident of abuse has in fact occurred; provided further, that the underlying facts upon which an order or orders under said chapter 209A was based may also form the basis for a finding by the probate and family court that a pattern or serious incident of abuse has occurred.

If the court finds that a pattern or serious incident of abuse has occurred and issues a temporary or permanent custody order, the court shall within 90 days enter written findings of fact as to the effects of the abuse on the child, which findings demonstrate that such order is in the furtherance of the child’s best interests and provides for the safety and well-being of the child.

If ordering visitation to the abusive parent the court shall provide for the safety and well-being of the child, and the safety of the abused parent. The court may consider:

(a) ordering an exchange of the child to occur in a protected setting or in the presence of an appropriate third party;

(b) ordering visitation supervised by an appropriate third party, visitation center or agency;

(c) ordering the abusive parent to attend and complete, to the satisfaction of the court, a certified batterer’s treatment program as a condition of visitation;

(d) ordering the abusive parent to abstain from possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances during the visitation and for 24 hours preceding visitation;

(e) ordering the abusive parent to pay the costs of supervised visitation;

(f) prohibiting overnight visitation;

(g) requiring a bond from the abusive parent for the return and safety of the child;

(h) ordering an investigation or appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney for the child; and

(i) imposing any other condition that is deemed necessary to provide for the safety and well-being of the child and the safety of the abused parent.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the right of the parties to a hearing under the rules of domestic relations procedure or to affect the discretion of the probate and family court in the conduct of such hearing.

Section 11: Acknowledgment of parentage; approval; parental agreements regarding custody, support and visitation

Section 11. (a) A written voluntary acknowledgment of parentage executed jointly by the putative father, whether a minor or not, and the mother of the child, whether a minor or not, and filed with the registrar of vital records and statistics or with the court shall be recognized as a sufficient basis for seeking an order of support, visitation or custody with respect to the child without further proceedings to establish paternity, and no judicial proceeding shall be required or permitted to ratify an acknowledgment that has not been challenged pursuant to this section. A report, prepared on an electronic system of birth registration approved by the commissioner of public health and indicating that an acknowledgment pursuant to this chapter has been executed in accordance with section 3C of chapter 46 and filed with the registrar of vital records and statistics, shall be presumed to be a sufficient basis for seeking an order of support, visitation or custody without further proceedings to establish paternity. The voluntary acknowledgment shall be attested to before a notary public and shall have the legal effect as provided in this section. Unless either signatory rescinds the acknowledgment within 60 days of the date of signing as provided in this section, the acknowledgment shall establish paternity as of the date it has been signed by such putative father and mother and shall have the same force and effect as a judgment of paternity, subject to challenge within one year only on the basis of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact; provided, however, that if, prior to the expiration of the 60-day period, the signatory is a party to an administrative or judicial proceeding related to the child, including a proceeding to establish child support, visitation or custody, and fails to rescind the acknowledgment at the time of such proceeding, the acknowledgment shall thereafter have the same force and effect as a judgment, subject to challenge only as provided in this section. The person seeking to rescind the acknowledgment shall, within 60 days of signing the acknowledgment, file a petition in the probate and family court in the county in which the child and one of the parents resides seeking to rescind the acknowledgment, with notice to the other parent. If neither of the parents lives in the same county as the child, then such complaint shall be filed in the county where the child lives. If the child whose paternity is challenged is a recipient of public assistance and the department of transitional assistance, the department of children and families, the division of medical assistance or any other public assistance program has not been made a party, or if the child is receiving child support enforcement services from the IV-D agency pursuant to chapter 119A, the court shall notify the IV-D agency. The person seeking to rescind the acknowledgment shall bear the burden of proof in such proceeding. The responsibilities of a signatory arising from the acknowledgment shall not be suspended during the pendency of such challenge unless the court so orders for good cause shown. If either party rescinds the acknowledgment in a timely fashion, the court shall order genetic marker testing and proceed to adjudicate paternity or nonpaternity in accordance with this chapter; provided, however, that the rescinded acknowledgment shall constitute the proper showing required for an order to submit to such testing; and provided further, that the rescinded acknowledgment shall be admissible as evidence of the putative father’s paternity and shall serve as sufficient basis for admitting the report of the results of genetic marker tests. Upon adjudication of nonpaternity, the court shall instruct the registrar of vital records and statistics as provided in section 13 of chapter 46 to amend the birth record of the child in accordance with the order of the court.

(b) If a mother and father execute a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage as provided in (a), they may also make agreements regarding custody, support and visitation. Such agreements may be filed with any court with jurisdiction pursuant to this chapter; provided, that any such agreement which includes issues of custody or visitation must be filed with a division of the probate and family court department in the judicial district or county in which the child and one of the parents lives. Such agreements, if filed with and approved by the court shall have the same force and effect as a judgment of the court; provided, however, that the court shall have the same power to investigate the facts regarding custody, support and visitation prior to entering an order relative to those issues as it would have if no agreement had been filed; and provided further, that an agreement regarding custody and visitation shall be approved only if the court finds it to be in the best interests of the child.

(c) Voluntary acknowledgments and agreements made pursuant to this chapter shall be acknowledged in the presence of a notary public and shall include the residence addresses and social security numbers of each of the parents, the residence address of the child and, if available, the social security number of the child.

(d) A voluntary acknowledgment of parentage taken outside of the commonwealth shall be valid for the purposes of this section if it was taken in accordance with the laws of the state or the country where it was executed.

Section 12:Trial; exclusion of public

Section 12. In actions under this chapter, the trial shall be by the court without a jury. In an action to establish paternity, the court shall, upon request of any party, exclude the general public from the room where the trial is held and may admit only persons directly interested in the case, including officers of the court and witnesses.

Section 13: Inspection of documents; copies; segregation of records

Section 13. In an action to establish paternity or in which paternity of a child is an issue, all complaints, pleadings, papers, documents or reports filed in connection therewith, docket entries in the permanent docket and record books shall be segregated and unavailable for inspection only if the judge of the court where such records are kept, for good cause shown, so orders or the person alleged to be the father is adjudicated not to be the father of the child; provided, however, that the child, the child’s mother, the person adjudicated to be the father and the department of transitional assistance, the department of children and families, the division of medical assistance or any other public assistance program and the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A, when the child who is or was the subject of the complaint is a recipient of public assistance or the attorney for any of them, and the department of children and families, when the child who is or was the subject of the complaint is within the care and protection of the department of children and families, is the subject of a petition for such care or protection pursuant to chapter 119 or is the subject of a petition to dispense with consent for adoption pursuant to subsection (b) of section 3 of chapter 210, shall have access to and the right to obtain copies of the papers, docket books and judgments in actions pursuant to this chapter. For good cause shown, which may be made ex parte or upon credible evidence, parties may file a complaint without the address, and the court shall impound a party’s address by excluding it from the complaint and from all other court documents and testimony, and shall ensure that the address is kept confidential from each other party except the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A.

Section 14: Complaints brought prior to birth

Section 14. An action to establish paternity of a child may be instituted during pregnancy of the mother but shall only be filed by the mother or her representative or by the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A on behalf of the mother. In the case of any complaint brought prior to the birth of the child, no final judgment on the issue of paternity shall be made until after the birth of the child; provided, however, that the court may order temporary support or health care coverage.

Section 15:Temporary orders; enforcement; information required to be given to petitioner; domestic violence record search

Section 15. At any time pursuant to an action under this chapter, the court may upon motion of any party or on its own motion issue a temporary order or final judgment including a vacate, restraining or no-contact order to protect a party or child. Any such order or judgment, including a custody provision if issued by a probate court, shall be served as specified under sections four and seven of chapter two hundred and nine A and shall contain the following statement: VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE. Criminal violations of such orders shall be enforced pursuant to section seven of chapter two hundred and nine A.

The court may, in like manner, upon motion of any party or of a next friend on behalf of the child, and upon notice to the other parties, enter temporary orders providing for the support of the child or relative to the care and custody of the child or visitation rights with the child in accordance with the provisions of sections nine and ten.

All orders entered pursuant to this section, unless modified or revoked pursuant to section twenty or twenty-three of chapter two hundred and nine C, shall continue in force and be incorporated in the final judgment. Violations of any order or judgment may be punished as contempt.

Upon the filing of a request for an order to protect a party or a child under the provisions of the first paragraph of this section, a petitioner shall be informed that proceedings hereunder are civil in nature and that violations of orders issued hereunder are criminal in nature. Further, a petitioner shall be given information prepared by the appropriate district attorney’s office that other criminal proceedings may be available and such petitioner shall be instructed by such district attorney’s office relative to the procedures required to initiate criminal proceedings including, but not limited to, a complaint for a violation of section forty-three of chapter two hundred and sixty-five. Whenever possible, a petitioner shall be provided with such information in the petitioner’s native language.

When considering a request for relief pursuant to this section, a judge shall cause a search to be made of the records contained within the statewide domestic violence record keeping system maintained by the office of the commissioner of probation and shall review the resulting data to determine whether the named defendant has a civil or criminal record involving domestic or other violence. Upon receipt of information that an outstanding warrant exists against the named defendant, a judge shall order that the appropriate law enforcement officials be notified and shall order that any information regarding the defendant’s most recent whereabouts shall be forwarded to such officials. In all instances where an outstanding warrant exists, a judge shall make a finding, based upon all of the circumstances, as to whether an imminent threat of bodily injury exists to the petitioner. In all instances where such an imminent threat of bodily injury is found to exist, the judge shall notify the appropriate law enforcement officials of such finding and such officials shall take all necessary actions to execute any such outstanding warrant as soon as is practicable.

Section 16:Competency to testify; refusal to testify; costs of tests; admissibility of evidence; failure of party to attend; testimony by telephone or affidavit

Section 16. (a) Both the plaintiff and the defendant are competent to testify in proceedings hereunder.

(b) Upon refusal of a witness, including a party, to testify under oath and produce evidence, the court may order such witness or party to testify under oath and produce evidence concerning all relevant facts. If a witness or party refuses to answer on the ground that the testimony may be self-incriminating, the court may draw an adverse inference from such refusal.

(c) In an action pursuant to this chapter, the mother and the man alleged to be the father shall be competent to testify and no privilege or disqualification created under chapter two hundred and thirty-three shall prohibit testimony by a spouse or former spouse which is otherwise competent. If the mother is or was married, both she and her husband or her former husband may testify to non-access and parentage of the child.

(d) In an action to establish paternity, testimony relating to sexual access to the mother by an unidentified man at any time or by an identified man at any time other than the probable time of conception of the child is inadmissible in evidence unless offered by the mother.

(e) In an action to establish paternity, the court may view the mother, the child, and the putative father to note any resemblance among the parties notwithstanding the absence of expert testimony.

(f) Copies of bills for genetic marker tests and for prenatal and postnatal health care of the mother and child, furnished to the adverse party at least ten days before trial, shall be admissible in evidence to prove the amount of the charges billed and that the charges were reasonable, necessary and customary. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the right of any party to the action or the IV-D agency to summon, at its own expense, a physician, agent of a hospital or other individual for the purpose of examination with respect to such bills or to rebut the contents thereof or for any other purpose to limit the right of a party or the IV-D agency to summon any other person to testify in respect to such bills or for any other purpose.

(g) All other evidence relevant to the issue of paternity of the child, custody of a child or support of a child shall also be admissible.

(h) In an action pursuant to this chapter where the rights to support of a party have been subrogated to the commonwealth pursuant to chapters 18, 119, or 118E, or Title IV, Parts A or E, or Title XIX of the Social Security Act, or any other public assistance program as required by federal or state law, the court shall proceed to establish orders pursuant to this chapter, notwithstanding the failure of the party to attend a hearing, upon a showing that written notice of the hearing was provided to the party by first class mail to the most recent residential address that the party has provided to the department of transitional assistance, the department of children and families or the division of medical assistance. For good cause shown, the court may set aside an entry of default and, if an order or judgment has been entered, may likewise set aside such order or judgment in accordance with rule 60(b) of the rules of domestic relations procedure.

(i) In an action pursuant to this chapter in a case receiving IV-D services, the court shall, upon good cause shown and upon verification of identity satisfactory to the court, permit a party to testify in an action pursuant to this chapter by telephone; and upon a showing that a party is incarcerated, permit the party to submit testimony by affidavit.

Section 17:Genetic marker tests; affidavit; refusal to submit to test; costs

Section 17. In an action under this chapter to establish paternity of a child born out of wedlock, the court shall, on motion of a party and upon a proper showing except as provided in this section, order the mother, the child and the putative father to submit to one or more genetic marker tests of a type generally acknowledged as reliable and performed by a laboratory approved by an accreditation body designated by the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services pursuant to Title IV, Part D of the Social Security Act. An affidavit by the mother or the putative father alleging that sexual intercourse between the mother and the putative father occurred during the probable period of conception shall be sufficient to establish a proper showing. If during the probable period of conception, the mother was married to someone other than the putative father, the court may order genetic marker tests only after notice pursuant to subsection (c) of section 6 to the spouse or former spouse. The court or the IV-D agency as provided in section 3A of chapter 119A may, order any person properly made a party under this chapter to submit to such testing. Unless a party objects in writing to the test results upon notice of the hearing date or within thirty days prior to the hearing, whichever is shorter, the report of the results of genetic marker tests, including a statistical probability of the putative father’s paternity based upon such tests, shall be admissible in evidence without the need for laying a foundation or other proof of authenticity or accuracy; provided, further, that such report shall not be considered as evidence of the occurrence of intercourse between the mother and the putative father; and provided, however, that such report shall not be admissible absent sufficient evidence of intercourse between the mother and the putative father during the period of probable conception. If such report indicates a statistical probability of paternity of ninety-seven percent or greater, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the putative father is the father of such child and, upon motion of any party or on its own motion, the court shall issue a temporary order of support. If the report of the results of genetic marker tests or an expert’s analysis of inherited characteristics is disputed, the court may then order that an additional test be made at the same laboratory or different laboratory at the expense of the party requesting additional testing. Verified documentation of the chain of custody of genetic marker or other specimens is competent evidence to establish such chain of custody. The fact that any party refuses to submit to a genetic marker test shall be admissible and the court may draw an adverse inference from such refusal. The cost of making any tests ordered pursuant to this section shall, in the first instance, be chargeable against the party making the motion. The court in its discretion may order the costs of such testing to be apportioned among the parties provided, however, the court may not direct the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A to pay for such tests, unless said IV-D agency is the moving party and provided further, that if the putative father is found to be the father, the court shall order the putative father to reimburse the IV-D agency or the other party. Payment for the costs of such tests shall be considered a necessary expense and if any party chargeable with the costs of the genetic marker tests is indigent as provided in section twenty-seven A of chapter two hundred and sixty-one, the court may direct payment of such costs by the commonwealth regardless of the type of tests requested by the moving party.

Section 18:Judgments or orders of support; enforcement

Section 18. Each judgment or order of support which is issued, reviewed or modified pursuant to this chapter shall conform to and shall be enforced in accordance with the provisions of chapter one hundred and nineteen A.

Section 19:Judgment or temporary order of support; enforcement

Section 19. A judgment of support issued in conclusion of a proceeding under this chapter or a temporary support order issued under this chapter may be enforced with one or more of the following methods:

(1) contempt in accordance with sections thirty-four and thirty-four A of chapter two hundred and fifteen;

(2) execution of the judgment;

(3) attachment of or lien against property;

(4) trustee process, in accordance with the provisions of chapter two hundred and forty-six;

(5) equitable actions to reach and apply for the enforcement of judgments; and

(6) any other civil remedy available for the enforcement of judgments or for the enforcement of support or custody orders entered under chapter two hundred and eight, and two hundred and nine, or received, entered or registered pursuant to chapter two hundred and nine D, including any remedy available under chapter 119A.

Section 20:Modification of judgments; jurisdiction

Section 20. A court with original jurisdiction pursuant to section three has continuing jurisdiction, upon a complaint filed by a person or agency entitled to file original actions, to modify judgments of support, custody or visitation; provided however, that no modification concerning custody or visitation shall be granted unless the court finds that a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties or the child has occurred and finds modification to be in the child’s best interests. Except as restricted by section twenty-three, the court may also modify a judgment to protect a party or child. In furtherance of the public policy that dependent children be maintained as completely as possible from the resources of their parents and upon a complaint filed after a judgment of support, orders of maintenance and for support of minor children shall be modified if there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from application of the child support guidelines promulgated by the chief justice for administration and management or if there is a need to provide for the health care coverage of the child. A modification to provide for the health care coverage of the child shall be entered whether or not a modification in the amount of child support is necessary. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the order which would result from the application of the guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support to be ordered. If, after taking into consideration the best interests of the child, the court determines that a party has overcome the presumption, the court shall make specific written findings indicating the amount of the order that would result from application of the guidelines; that the guidelines amount would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances; the specific facts of the case which justify departure from the guidelines; and that such departure is consistent with the best interests of the child. The order shall be modified accordingly unless the inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount of the order that would result from application of the guidelines is due to the fact that the amount of the existing order resulted from a rebuttal of the guidelines and that there has been no change in the circumstances which resulted in such rebuttal; provided, however, that even if the specific facts that justified departure from the guidelines upon entry of the original order remain in effect, the order shall be modified in accordance with the guidelines unless the court finds that the guidelines amount would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances and that the existing order is consistent with the best interests of the child. A modification of child support may enter notwithstanding an agreement of the parents that has independent legal significance. For cases being enforced by the IV-D agency as set forth in chapter 119A, a support order may also be modified in accordance with section 3B of said chapter 119A.

Section 21:Action to determine mother and child relationship

Section 21. Any interested party may bring an action to determine the existence of a mother and child relationship. Insofar as practicable, the provisions of this chapter applicable to establishing paternity shall apply.

Section 22: Proceedings barred under this chapter

Section 22. (a) A decree or judgment entered on a petition filed pursuant to sections three or six of chapter two hundred and ten shall be a bar to a proceeding under this chapter.

(b) A proceeding under chapter two hundred and seven, two hundred and eight, two hundred and nine, two hundred and seventy-three, or two hundred and nine D shall not be a bar to any proceeding under this chapter. An action brought under this chapter may be consolidated with an action brought under chapters two hundred and seven, two hundred and eight, two hundred and nine or two hundred and nine D if both actions are pending in the same department of the trial court.

(c) If an action under chapter two hundred and seven, two hundred and eight, or two hundred and nine, is filed after the commencement of proceedings or after a judgment under this chapter, any order or judgment for support of a child issued in the annulment, divorce or separate support proceedings shall supersede any prior order or judgment for support of the same child under this chapter; and any assignment made under this chapter shall be superseded by an assignment made in the divorce, separate support, or annulment proceeding; provided, however, that nothing herein shall prevent the court in such annulment, separate support or divorce proceeding from entering an order or judgment enforcing any previous support order or judgment for support under this chapter which has not been paid, consistent with the provisions of section nine.

(d) No proceeding hereunder shall be barred by a prior finding or adjudication under any repealed sections of chapter two hundred and seventy-three or by the fact that a child was born prior to the effective date of this chapter.

Section 23:Intermarriage of parents; jurisdiction

Section 23. (a) If, after adjudication of paternity or voluntary acknowledgment of parentage, the parents of the child intermarry, any order or judgments of the court relative to support, custody, visitation and restraint on personal liberty shall be null and void, except as to any support arrearage which is owed to the commonwealth as reimbursement for public assistance and which accrued before the date that the parents intermarry and the court shall have no continuing jurisdiction over the parties under this chapter.

(b) If, after proceedings are commenced but before an adjudication of paternity is issued, the parents intermarry, the court may adjudicate paternity hereunder but shall have no other jurisdiction over the child or the parents under this chapter.

(c) An action under this chapter may be commenced after the intermarriage of the parents of the child only to determine paternity.

Section 24:Forms

Section 24. The administrative justices of the district, Boston municipal and the probate and family court department of the trial court shall jointly promulgate forms for complaints, agreements and registrations of parentage for use under this chapter, which shall be in such form and language to permit a person to prepare and file such forms pro se.