PROBATE AND FAMILY COURT ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square
Boston, MA 02108
Revised April 2011
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
THE TRIAL COURT
PROBATE AND FAMILY COURT DEPARTMENT
STANDING ORDER 4-08
PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAM ATTENDANCE
This court finds that the interests of the minor children of parties appearing before it would be well
served by educating their parents about children’s emotional needs and the effects of divorce on
child behavior and development.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. All parties to a divorce action in which there are minor children, are ordered to attend and
participate in an approved Parent Education Program (hereinafter, program) except as herein
provided. This requirement applies to divorces brought under Ch. 208 sec. 1 (fault divorces); and Ch.
208 secs. 1A and 1B (irretrievable breakdown) and as ordered by a judge of this court in an action to
establish paternity, complaints for modification or contempt or in any case involving visitation,
custody, or support of minor children.
2. Attendance at an approved program is mandatory for parties to such actions unless waived by
the court. Parties must register with an approved provider within sixty days (60) days of service of
the original complaint upon the original defendant and attend the next available session.
3. No Pre-trial Conference or Trial will be held by the court until the court receives a certificate of
attendance from an approved program for each party, or waives the requirement. An uncontested
divorce hearing may be scheduled pending attendance if the parties file confirmations of registration
with the court and so long as both parties complete the program prior to the hearing. A Pre-Trial
Conference in a contested case may be similarly scheduled so long as the parties complete the
program prior to the Pre-Trial Conference.
4. The court may waive the attendance requirement upon motion, with notice, for one or both
parties. Waivers will only be granted upon a demonstrable showing of chronic and severe violence
which negates safe parental communication; language barriers; institutionalization or other
unavailability of a party; failure of the other party to complete a program; unavailability of an
approved program in the county in which the original divorce brought under Ch. 208 sec. 1 and Ch.
208 secs. 1A and 1B was filed; or where justice otherwise indicates.
5. Sanctions for failure to register with an approved program within sixty (60) days of service of
the original complaint upon the original defendant may be imposed by the court.
6. The parties must attend programs approved by the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family
Court. Attendance at an approved program, wherever held within the Commonwealth, is permissible.
Programs which are not approved by the Chief Justice will not satisfy the attendance requirement.
Program vendors will ensure that parties to an action do not attend the same session of any
program. Lists of approved programs shall be available at all Registries of Probate and at
7. A pamphlet entitled Parent Education Programs: Understanding the Effect of Divorce on
Children, which lists the approved program providers shall be given to the plaintiff or his/her
attorney upon the filing of a complaint for divorce involving minor children. The plaintiff or his/her
attorney shall serve a copy of said pamphlet along with the complaint and summons to the person
authorized to make service pursuant to Mass.R.Dom.Rel.P. 4(c).
8. The parties shall each pay $80.00 to the provider in advance of the program to offset the cost of
materials and facilitators.
9. A party may pay a reduced fee of $5.00 to the provider if that party has submitted and had
allowed an “Affidavit of Indigency and Request for Waiver, Substitution or State Payment of Fees
and Costs.” This form is prescribed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court pursuant to
G.L. c. 261, § 27B, promulgated March, 2003 and is available at the Registry of the Probate and
Family Court. The party must submit a copy of this form to the provider when registering for a
program at a reduced fee of $5.00.
10. Nothing herein shall be construed to limit the authority of any Probate and Family Court justice
to order parties to attend an approved program in any case involving visitation, custody, or support
of minor children.
11. All information submitted in compliance with the research component of the program shall be
the work product of the Probate and Family Court Administrative Office. The material is for research
purposes only and shall not be discoverable.
April 2008 Paula M. Carey
Approved Program Providers