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Practice Areas
Divorce
Child Custody
Relocation Of Children
Enforcement of Judgments
Modification of Judgments
Non-Marital Agreements
Paternity
 
 
 

After a final judgment is entered in a domestic relations matter, whether a divorce case, paternity action, or other proceeding – whether the parties have entered an agreement or a court has made the decision – it is more likely than not that circumstances will change from time to time with the result that the terms of the Judgment are no longer appropriate to the current situation.

Where the issues relate to support, the traditional standard for making a change is for the person seeking the modification to show that there has been a “material change of circumstances.” The changes bearing on support may relate to the financial circumstances of either party or to the needs of a child. The extensive case law on modification sets out numerous circumstances that may warrant a change in support-related issues. The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines provide that “a modification may be allowed upon showing a discrepancy of 20% or more between an established order and a proposed new order calculated under these guidelines.”

Under Massachusetts law, a modification relating to support issues may be made retroactive, but only back to the date of filing a Complaint for Modification. Therefore the person in need of the change should not delay in initiating the filing of a Complaint.

Where the issues relate to a Parenting Plan, the traditional standard for making a change is “the best interests of the child.” After an original custody determination is made, courts are often reluctant to make changes. The court is likely to give weight to the wishes of a teenager, but the child’s preference at any age is not per se determinative of a change.

Often a Judgment or Agreement intentionally leaves open a future issue, such as parental responsibility for college expenses, and a Complaint for Modification is needed to resolve a disagreement or make the parents’ agreement enforceable as a court order.



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One McKinley Square, Boston, Massachusetts 02109
Telephone: 617.423.0099 Facsimile: 617.423.5880

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