WHAT IS THE PROBATE COURT
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Plymouth Division of the Probate
and Family Court Department processes Estates, Divorce and Family Law
matters, Protective Orders from Domestic Abuse, Name Changes, Adoptions,
Guardianships, Equity matters as well as other matters in which the law
Each Probate Court has three
interactive components designed to effectively, efficiently, and fairly
manage each case through the complex maze that is "the law".
The Registry component is responsible
for receiving documents to be presented to the Court, for the maintenance of
all records and documents that are processed in the Court, and for customer
service within the Registry. It is run by the Register of Probate, a
constitutionally elected officer, who is elected every six years by the
residents of Plymouth County. The Registry dockets documents;
prepares and forwards all hearing notices and scheduling orders to the
appropriate parties; issues summonses, citations, warrants, letters and
licenses necessary to carry out and effect any order or judgment of the
Court; mails copies of each document that a Judge signs to each
party, or their attorney, if represented. Although the staff is available
to assist the Bar and the Public in clerical and procedural matters, staff
members are prohibited by law from giving any legal advice.
One of the key responsibilities of
the Registry is to record, store, and archive all the pertinent records,
and keep them available to the public during regular office hours.
The first series of files for the Plymouth Probate Court covers the period
from 1685 - 1881. The files are located at the Massachusetts
State Archives, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125, telephone
number (617) 727-2816. Index books for that period
are located at the Plymouth Court.
Records for the period after 1881 are located
or will be made available at the Plymouth Court. Most of these records are kept on site,
in Plymouth, have easy to use indices, and can be reviewed in
the Registry Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Some
cases, or parts of cases are restricted from inspection based upon
specific Orders, or by State Law or Statute. Adoption records are
not a matter of public record and have very limited access. For
access to Paternity or abuse prevention cases, please call (508) 897-2961,
as said records are located in Brockton and Plymouth.
The Judicial component consists of
the First Justice, Associate Justices, Visiting Justices and the Judicial
staff of Assistant Registers and Secretaries. The main
functions of the Judicial component are to:
determine the schedule and
hold formal hearings; and
make written decisions in the
form of Orders, Judgments or Decrees.
The Family Service Probation Office
component provides dispute intervention or mediation
services, conducts investigations, and reports its findings directly to
the Judge during court sessions. With its own clerical
staff, the Family Service Probation Office coordinates cases with the
Registry and Judicial staff prior to and subsequent to most court appearances.
-Robert E. McCarthy, Register of Probate