Amendments to Supplemental Probate Court Rule 412, which currently provides the method by which a child support judgment may be modified by agreement, may soon be expanded to include a method by which parties to an action may seek to modify, by agreement, any judgment or temporary order of the Probate and Family Court. (That said, actions under M.G.L. 209A, which govern abuse prevention orders, are specifically excluded from the modification procedures outlined in Supplemental Probate Court Rule 412.)
By identifying a uniform procedure for written submissions to the Court, the proposed amendments to Supplemental Probate Court Rule 412 provide that parties seeking an agreed-upon modification of a judgment or temporary order may do so without the need for a hearing. This uniform procedure would allow parties to present their agreed-upon request to modify to the Court, in writing, by filing the following:
(i) a Joint Petition to modify;
(ii) an agreement, signed and notarized by the parties, that specifies the agreed-upon terms of the judgment or temporary order the parties are seeking to modify;
(iii) any assent or document that is required by an applicable MA statute or court rule; and
(iv) a proposed judgment or order for modification.
If the requested modification pertains to a financial issue (such as child support) the proposed amendments require that parties file additional documents, including (i) current, complete and accurate, signed financial statement forms and W-2s, (ii) a current, complete an accurate Child Support Guidelines worksheet (if child support or medical insurance are at issue), and (iii) a written assent from the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division in matters involving a party or dependent child who is a current recipient of public assistance, or who owes past-due child support that has been assigned to the Commonwealth.
While the proposed amendments put forth a method for the Probate and Family Court to address agreed-upon modifications administratively, the Court retains the discretion to schedule a hearing when it would be helpful or when the parties' submissions to the Court are deficient or incomplete.