Worcester Family Court: All You Need to Know
If you’re experiencing domestic violence, Worcester Family Court can help. The court can issue a restraining order, which is a legal order that requires the abuser to stay away from you and your children. If the abuser violates the restraining order, they can be arrested and charged with a crime. Worcester Family Court also has resources available to help victims of domestic violence, including counseling and support groups.
The Worcester Probate and Family Court is located at 225 Main Street in Worcester, Massachusetts. This court has jurisdiction over all probate and family-related cases arising in Worcester County, which covers over 60 cities and towns.
The Worcester Probate and Family Court provides a wide range of services through its different divisions and departments. Some key areas include probate cases involving wills, estates, guardianships, and adoptions; family law matters like divorce, child custody, child support; and juvenile cases handled by probation officers.
The court aims to be accessible to all members of the public. Accommodations are available for disabilities and language assistance services are provided. There is public transportation access and affordable parking near the courthouse. Online services are also available through the Virtual Registry.
What is Worcester Family Court?
Worcester Family Court is a court in Worcester County, Massachusetts that handles cases related to family matters. These can include divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, and domestic violence. The court’s goal is to help families resolve their legal issues in a fair and impartial manner, while protecting the rights and interests of all parties involved.
Types of Cases Heard in Worcester Family Court
One of the most common types of cases heard in Worcester Family Court is divorce. If you’re considering divorce, it’s important to know that Massachusetts is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that you don’t have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in order to get a divorce. Instead, you simply need to state that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Child custody cases are also frequently heard in Worcester Family Court. When making decisions about child custody, the court’s main priority is the best interests of the child. The court will consider factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s preferences (if the child is old enough to express them), and each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs.
If you’re going through a divorce or separation and you have children, you may need to establish child support. Child support is money that one parent pays to the other to help support their children. The amount of child support is based on a number of factors, including each parent’s income, the number of children, and how much time each parent spends with the children.
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is financial support that one spouse pays to the other after a divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage. The amount and duration of spousal support are determined by the court, and are based on factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and earning potential, and each spouse’s financial needs.
Hours of Operation
The Worcester Probate and Family Court is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. The court is closed on all state and federal holidays.
Before coming to the courthouse, you can check the court’s website for any special closures or schedule changes. Daily court calendars and dockets are also posted online each morning the court is open.
Parking and Transportation
There are several parking options for visitors to the Worcester Probate and Family Court:
- Pearl-Elm Municipal Garage – This garage is located diagonally across from the courthouse. Parking fees apply.
- Federal Plaza Parking Lot – This lot is one block from the courthouse. Parking fees apply.
- Metered Street Parking – There are metered parking spots on the streets bordering the courthouse, with a two-hour limit. Quarters or the ParkMobile app are needed to pay the meter.
Public transportation is also available:
- The Worcester Union Station stop on the MBTA Commuter Rail Framingham/Worcester line is just half a mile from the courthouse.
- Several WRTA bus routes stop near the courthouse on Main St and Franklin St.
Key Services and Resources
The Worcester Probate and Family Court provides many important services and resources for legal matters involving wills, estates, families, children, and more.
The Probate Division handles cases involving:
- Wills and estates – Probating wills, resolving estate disputes, appointing executors
- Guardianships – Appointing guardians for minors or incapacitated persons
- Adoptions – Adopting a child, amending birth records
- Name changes – Legally changing one’s name
The Family Division handles cases related to:
- Divorce – Filing for divorce, alimony, property division, restraining orders
- Custody and parenting time – Establishing custody, visitation, modifying arrangements
- Child support – Setting, modifying, enforcing child support orders
- Paternity – Establishing biological fatherhood, orders of support
The Virtual Registry allows users to access Worcester Probate and Family Court services online. Available options include:
- eFiling documents for existing cases
- Requesting court date reminders via text messages
- Searching court dockets and calendars
- Getting assistance from court staff
Fees and Payments
The Worcester Probate and Family Court charges filing fees that vary based on the type of case being filed. Fees can be paid by cash, check, money order, or credit/debit card. Fee waivers are available for indigent parties.
Online payments can also be made through the ePay system accessible from the court’s website.
The Probate and Family Court Probation Department provides supervision and services involving:
- Juveniles – Delinquency, Children Requiring Assistance (CRA)
- Domestic abuse – Batterer intervention, monitoring restraining orders
- Mental health – Referrals for evaluations, treatment
Probation officers conduct investigations and make recommendations to the judge on cases.
Accessibility and Accommodations
The Worcester Probate and Family Court strives to provide accessibility and accommodations for all court users.
To request ADA accommodations for a disability, contact the court’s ADA Coordinator:
- Alicia Doherty
- Phone: (508) 831-2241
- Email: [email protected]
For language accommodations, contact:
- Megan Brown
- Phone: (508) 831-2237
- Fax: (508) 752-6138
- Email: [email protected]
The court can arrange for interpreter services in over 200 languages.
Main Phone Number: (508) 831-2200
Email: [email protected]
Mailing Address: Worcester Probate and Family Court 225 Main St.
Worcester, MA 01608
Tips for Visiting
When coming to the Worcester Probate and Family Court, keep these tips in mind:
- Go through courthouse security screening upon entry.
- Do not bring weapons, pepper spray, drugs, or other prohibited items.
- Follow proper courtroom conduct and be respectful. Address the judge as “your honor.”
- Locate the correct courtroom for your case hearing time.
- Dress appropriately for court – no shorts, tank tops, hats, etc.
With proper planning and conduct, your visit to the Worcester Probate and Family Court can go smoothly. Contact court staff with any questions prior to your hearing date.
The Worcester Probate and Family Court handles important legal matters for the residents of Worcester County. By understanding the court’s location, hours, services, fees, and procedures, users can have the most effective experience navigating the court system. Reaching out to court staff and legal professionals for guidance is also recommended. With the right approach, the Worcester Probate and Family Court can successfully resolve your probate or family law case.
What types of cases are handled by the Worcester Probate and Family Court?
This court handles all probate cases (wills, estates, guardianships, adoptions, name changes) and family law cases (divorce, custody, child support, paternity) arising in Worcester County.
How can I make payments to the court?
Payments can be made in-person by cash, check, money order or credit/debit card. The ePay system on the court’s website allows for online payments.
Where can I get forms needed to file my court case?
Court forms are available on the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court website. Some forms can be completed online using CourtFormsOnline. Forms are also available at the courthouse.
Can I bring my cell phone or laptop into the courthouse?
Yes, cell phones and laptops are permitted after going through the security screening. Be sure devices are silenced in the courtrooms.
How do I get a fee waiver if I cannot afford court fees?
Complete an Affidavit of Indigency and Request for Waiver, Exemption or State Payment of Fees & Costs form to request a fee waiver based on financial hardship.