Probate and Family Court

Line Item: 
0333-0002
Age Range: 
  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

The Probate and Family Court (PFC) oversees a wide range of family-focused legal matters, including divorce, alimony, paternity, child welfare, child custody, visitation and child support determinations. The PFC also handles "probate" matters, i.e., cases involving wills and the transfer of estates at time of death, as well as guardianship and conservatorship arrangements for minors and incapacitated adults.

The Probate and Family Court handles approximately 155,000 to 165,000 cases each year. Many of these cases directly involve children or their families, though the PFC does not collect the specific data needed to determine the exact number of such cases.

Roughly one-third of the total PFC caseload involves probate and related issues. Many of these cases do not directly involve children or their families (though Guardianship of Minor cases are part of the Probate caseload, and by definition, these cases do involve children).

The other two-thirds of the PFC caseload is focused on family issues, many of which directly affect children or families with children. For example, many of the cases that fall within the PFC category of "domestic relations" (including divorce, child custody, and paternity and child support determination cases) will have a direct impact on the well-being of children, as do cases involving adoption, child welfare and abuse prevention.

Updated August 2016

Are you an expert in this area? Do you know someone who is? Let us know so that together we can make this the most up-to-date, useful resource on children's programs in Massachusetts.