We attended the recent training at the Worcester Law Library and wanted to share some of the most important takeaways:
1. Available to All
The e-filing system is available to both attorneys and clients. This means that pro se (unrepresented) parties can file documents on their own through e-filing as well.
2. Available in Every County
The e-filing system is available in every county in Massachusetts as of this posting. Since this system is new, different counties may have different policies on how they are implementing the interplay between electronic and paper filings. For instance, some counties may require documents be filed in a specific order.
3. Not Mandatory (Yet)
E-filing is not mandatory in Massachusetts at this time. It is recommended for cases where e-filing is available that parties (and attorneys) use this service as it will reduce administrative cost and wait times on docketing.
4. Not Available in All Cases (Yet)
You may currently e-file only the following types of cases in the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court:
- Complaint for Divorce (1B only - no Joint Petitions)
- Petition for Formal Adjudication
- Petition for Informal Probate
- Voluntary Administration Statements
- Petition for Guardianship of Incapacitated Persons
While the e-filing system is always open (24/7 online), if something is filed after the court's business hours it is treated as being filed the next business day that the court is open.
6. Fee for Filings
The filing fees for any submission are the same as in person, except that there is an additional $7 electronic filing fee for each filing.
If any document in your filing is incorrect, the entire filing will be returned. This is the same as what happens when the court returns a paper filing, except that the submission fee is returned (whereas a paper filing you would have to pay the postage a second time).
7. Filing Format & Electronic Signatures