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


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