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


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