Procedures Applicable to a Plaintiff in a Protection Case - How to file the Complaint and Related Forms
E. How To File the Complaint and Related Forms.
There are two ways you can get the complaint, which starts a protection action. The first is to go to the clerk's office in the District Court, and ask the clerk for either a Complaint for Protection from Abuse (form PA-001) or a Complaint from Protection from Harassment (form PA-006). The clerk will provide you with the form, which you may fill out at the courthouse, the local Domestic Violence project, or anywhere else. The clerk can answer some questions about the form, but is not allowed to give legal advice.
The second way to access court forms is through the Internet. If you have a computer and Internet connection, go to one of these websites:
If you do not have a computer, go to a local library or other site with a public access computer and ask the librarian to help you get to the above web pages. The computer will ask you a series of questions, and will then generate a completed complaint and other necessary forms which you can print, sign (in front of a notary public or court clerk) and file with your local court.
You must also complete a Protection Order Service Information (form PA-005) that provides information that can be used to serve the defendant with any pleadings and orders. You should return the Protection Order Service Information (PA-005) together with the complaint to the clerk.
You may also be asked to complete a Child Support Affidavit (form FM-050) before the final hearing if the complaint is based on abuse, sexual assault or stalking, you have minor children, the defendant is the parent of any of your minor children, and no child support order already exists.
Make arrangements for service in accordance with Section H (Service of the Complaint and Related Forms).
In all cases, a party's address and other identifying information can be kept confidential if the party fills out an affidavit for confidential address and phone number stating under oath that disclosure of the information would jeopardize the health, safety or liberty of the party or a child. In that case, the clerk's office will keep your contact information confidential and will use it only to contact you. The court can order the information disclosed only after a hearing, and only if the court decides that disclosure is in the interest of justice.
In all cases, you must inform the clerk's office of any change of address that occurs after the complaint is filed - even if your address is being kept confidential.
TIPS FOR FILLING OUT THE COMPLAINT:
Fill out the form completely. Be as specific as possible in describing the abuse, sexual assault, stalking or harassment. For example:
- If the complaint is based on abuse, sexual assault or stalking, do not rely on conclusions such as, "The defendant abused me," or "The defendant threatened or stalked me." Instead, include specific allegations such as: "On June 20, my ex-husband John Doe slapped me on the face. He then kicked me on the legs causing bruises. The next day he told me he would kill my son if I didn't obey him." If the complaint is based on or includes allegations of abuse, sexual assault or stalking of a child, the complaint should include the child's name and state that the complaint is brought, in whole or in part, on behalf of the child.
- If the complaint is based on harassment, do not rely on conclusions such as: "The defendant harassed me." Instead, include specific allegations such as: "My boyfriend's new girlfriend Mary Doe has called me 40 times in the last few weeks." If the complaint is based on or includes allegations of harassment of a child, the complaint should include the child's name and state that the complaint is brought, in whole or in part, on behalf of that child.
If you need immediate protection and cannot wait for a hearing to get a protection order, you should also request a temporary protection order. More information on temporary orders is available in Section G (Temporary Protection Order).
If no immediate protection order is necessary, sign the complaint in the presence of the clerk, a notary, or an attorney, and request the clerk to file the complaint. The clerk will complete a Summons and set a date for final hearing. Final hearing in an abuse case must be held within 21 days of when the complaint was filed. There is no specific timeline for a final hearing in a harassment case.
You can also receive help filling out this form from local Domestic Violence project. Court clerks will be able to provide you information about local advocacy programs or see more information at www.mcedv.org.