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Next Friend Parties in Divorce


While parties to a divorce action are called a “plaintiff” and a “defendant”, certain actions may be brought by a “next friend” – a person who acts for the benefit of another in litigation without being regularly appointed as a guardian.

Under Mass.R.Dom.Rel.P. 17, if an incompetent person does not have a legal guardian, conservator, legal representative or other fiduciary to file a lawsuit on their behalf, the next friend can file suit.

In divorce, separate support and paternity cases, an “incompetent” person may also include children (minor children are considered incompetent under the law since they are not of legal age to make decisions).  As a result, the domestic rules allow for the next friend of children to petition the court to modify a custody provision in a divorce judgment.

For more information pertaining to lawsuits filed by next friends, contact our office today.

Our firm serves Boston as well as all courts in Bristol County, including the New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton courthouses.  We also serve all courts in Plymouth County including the Family and Probate Courthouses in Plymouth and Brockton.

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