Important Information on Massachusetts Courts
The following is a summary regarding the Massachusetts Courts during the COVID-19 outbreak. This information is not legal advice. It shall not be taken as legal advice or substituted for legal advice. The content provided is for informational purposes only. Before you make any decision that may have legal implications, you should consult with a qualified legal professional for specific legal advice tailored to your situation.
Currently, the Massachusetts Courts are open to conduct business virtually. Court buildings remain closed to the public until July 13, 2020 except for some emergencies. Please follow this link for more details.
On July 13, 2020 the courts will physically re-open to the public for certain limited purposes. After July 13, 2020, to continue to limit the number of persons entering Courthouses, all Courts will continue to conduct most Court business virtually (i.e. by telephone, video conference, email, or comparable means, or through the electronic filing system) in both civil and criminal cases. Please follow this link to see a summary of the most recent order from the Supreme Judicial Court on the physical re-opening process.
Emergency matters are being heard by video conference or telephone. The Standing Orders define what is an emergency matter in each department of the Court. You can follow this link to read the standing orders and updated press releases for each Court. Each Court may also hear non-emergency matters as they determine appropriate. If you have an upcoming court date or matter before the Court you can call the Court and ask whether your matter will be heard by video conference or telephone or if it will be rescheduled.
Each Division of the Probate and Family Court has published protocols for how to file complaints and conduct business in their respective Courts at this time. You can access the Division Protocol for the Essex County Probate and Family Court by following this link. You can access the Division Protocols for the other divisions by following this link.
APPLYING FOR AN ABUSE PREVENTION ORDER
The Court website provides a video with information on obtaining a restraining order during the pandemic. You can view the video by following this link.
If you need to apply for an Abuse Prevention Order during business hours (between 8:30AM and 4:30PM, Monday through Friday) call the District Court or Probate and Family Court to talk to Court staff about how to proceed.
If you need to apply for an Abuse Prevention Order outside of business hours, contact the Police Department and use the existing after-hours Judicial Response System.
If you have a scheduled court date you can call the Court regarding the hearing.
- Newburyport (978) 462-2652
- Ipswich (978) 462-2652
- Haverhill (978) 521-7300
- Lawrence (978) 687-7184
Essex County Probate and Family Court
- Salem (978) 744-1020
- Lawrence (978) 686-9692
If a court user is unable to reach those offices or has general questions about cases, they can call the Trial Court Help Line at 833-91COURT between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can read more about the Helpline by following this link.
VIDEO: ASKING FOR A RESTRAINING ORDER DURING THE COVID PANDEMIC