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


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