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


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