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.
For general information on the operations of the courts during the pandemic please follow this link.
The Courts are open to the public, but will still hold some hearings virtually. If you are scheduled for a virtual hearing, follow this link for guidance from the court on how to attend virtual hearings.
The Probate and Family Court is open for business on family matters, including divorce, name change, child support, and more. Some matters are being heard virtually, by phone or videoconference. Others are being heard in person. Please follow this link for more information on in-person and virtual hearings in the Probate and Family Court. It is important to communicate with the Court in advance of your hearing date to make sure that you know how the hearing will be conducted.
Each of the Probate and Family Courts has also opened a Virtual Registry where you can receive face-to-face assistance from registry staff remotely. You can access the Essex County Probate and Family Court Virtual Registry at the following link. You can find the links for the Virtual Registry for other Family and Probate Courts, as well as other types of courts by clicking here.
VIRTUAL COURT SERVICE CENTERS
Court Service Centers locations are closed to the public until further notice due to COVID-19, but remote services are available for emergency cases via Zoom Meetings. They are available Monday through Friday from 9AM to noon. You can find information on the services offered and how to access them here.
APPLYING FOR AN ABUSE PREVENTION ORDER
If you need to apply for an Abuse Prevention Order during business hours (between 8:30AM and 4:30PM, Monday through Friday) you can go to or call the District Court or Probate and Family Court in your area to talk to Court staff about how to proceed. The Districts Courts can be found here. If you need to see a list of the court(s) that serve your area follow this link.
If you need to apply for an Abuse Prevention Order outside of court business hours, contact your local Police Department and use the after-hours Judicial Response System.
A collection of volunteers operating out of Suffolk Law’s Legal Innovation and Technology Lab in cooperation with the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission’s COVID-19 task force created an on-line and mobile friendly application to assist court users in completing a number of court forms. The full list of available categories can be found here. An on-line application to assist with filing out the forms to apply for a 209A Restraining Order can be found here.
The District Court and the Probate and Family Court orders indicate that the initial ex-parte hearing and the two-party hearing after notice (also sometimes referred to the “10-day hearing”) will be conducted in person. However, a judge can determine that the hearing(s) may be conducted virtually. Please see the order from the District Court here and the order from the Probate and Family Court here. It is important to communicate with the Court prior to the hearing date to make sure that you know how the hearing will be conducted.
If you have a scheduled court date you can call the Court regarding the hearing. If you have an emergency court issue you should call your local court.
- 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
For information on the courts that serve your area and an alphabetical list of all courts follow this link.
If a court user is unable to reach their local court 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.