Divorce Mediation Blog

House Bill No. 3091: An Act to Expedite Care and Custody of Minor Children Modification Proceedings

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Representative Markey of the 9th Bristol District has filed a bill to permit modification of a judgment on child care and custody matters only, without the need to file a new action. It contains provisions for a motion filing fee, preliminary hearing and discovery. The bill provides for evidentiary hearings, but only if requested by a party or set by the court as an exercise of discretion. Temporary orders may enter, mirroring the standards of M.G.L., ch. 208, §28.

We wonder why this bill and why now? It dispenses with the due process requirement of a modification complaint and encourages expedited proceedings, but is that a good idea? Current practice requires a new modification action, but it permits temporary orders and mandates a case management conference at which the court may enter expedient procedural orders that regulate discovery. So, what is new, really?

We presume that the drafters believe that child custody matters require a faster track than other matters involving child support and alimony. But the bill begs two questions: is this really an improvement; and it is good to make custody proceedings a little bit easier to pursue? The answers, in our view are “not really” and “not necessarily.”

There is no doubt that family law proceedings generally take too long and cost too much. But cherry-picking custody cases does not cure these manifest problems, and it may just encourage heedless litigation. Research shows that the most damaging part of post-divorce custody is parental failure to agree on a parenting plan, and continued fighting. Making custody modification even a little bit easier may just encourage more custody modification litigation, which, as a phenomenon, benefits only lawyers.

If permitting judgment modifications by motion, as some states do permit, on the theory that any custody or support matter is technically a continuing matter until terminus, then it should be part of a broader reform of all family law statutes. But, singling out custody matters strikes us as symbolic at best while encouraging litigious parenting.

Get e-mail notifications of new blog posts! Enter email address below.:

Delivered by FeedBurner

other articles

recent posts


divorce arbitrator COLA Matrimonial Arbitration family law arbitrators med-arb Divorce IRC §2704 lawyer-attended mediation Baseball family law arbitrator family law Defense of Marriage Act Major League Baseball Arbitration rehabilitative alimony health coverage Child Support Guidelines Massachusetts Baseball Arbitration MLB labor agreement divorce litigation traditional negotiations alimony reform legislation Massachusetts lawyers General term alimony Self-adjusting alimony orders Massachusetts divorce mediators Uniform Arbitration Act special master arbitrator Divorce Agreements resolve disputes Family Law Arbitration divorce mediator pre-ARA alimony Same Sex Marriage support orders facilitated negotiations medical benefits LDRC DOMA Obamacare dispute resolution divorce and family law child support self-adjusting alimony health insurance Levine Dispute Resolution Center LLC Levine Dispute Resolution conciliation litigation The Seven Sins of Alimony divorce judgment mediator Boston family mediation annulment divorce mediators fraud arbitrators alimony statute alimony alimony orders lawyers Levine Dispute Resolution Center family and probate law disputes divorce mediation mediation mediators alimony law divorce arbitrators private dispute resolution SJC Twinkies Levine Dispute Resolutions Massachusetts alimony Baseball Players separation high-risk methodology Cohabitation mediations divorce agreement divorce process divorce mediations med/arb family support Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly divorce and family law mediators family law mediation Chouteau Levine Massachusetts alimony and child support lawyer how baseball arbitration works Alimony Reform Act Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act divorce lawyers divorced divorce arbitration arbitration Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth disputes