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Post-Divorce Series: Modification

To make it easier for parties who enter written agreements for modification to have such agreements incorporated into enforceable court judgments or orders, Rule 412 has been expanded beyond judgments and orders regarding solely child support, and now include uncontested modifications of other child-related judgments and orders, including those related to custody and medical insurance coverage.  

Amended Rule 412 will allow for a more stream-lined procedure to modify a broader scope of child-related judgments and orders, so that such modifications can be entered/allowed administratively, without the necessity of a court appearance before the presiding Justice of the Probate and Family Court.

As divorce trial attorneys and mediators reviewing post-divorce issues, we often see mediation provisions in a divorced party's Separation Agreement that was incorporated into a final Judgment of Divorce.  Often the Separation Agreement itself was drafted with the help of a mediator, or, as the result of negotiations between the parties and their counsel, the parties came to a final agreement, and embodied in that agreement a mutual intent in the future to attempt to resolve disputes through mediation prior to resorting to contested post-divorce litigation.  

Rule 412 will provide such parties, who successfully mediate a post-divorce agreement to modify the terms of their underlying divorce agreement, a stream-lined opportunity to have such a modification agreement incorporated into a new, modified, divorce judgment, which will be enforceable in the Probate and Family Court through contempt proceedings in the event of non-compliance.

The new Rule 412 forms include a Joint Petition/Motion (CJD 124), an Agreement (CJD 311) and a Judgment/Temporary Order (CJD 446). The new Joint Petition/Motion (CJD 124) replaces the Joint Petition for Modification of Child Support Judgment (CJD 114). The informational material available online includes a Checklist of Required Forms (CJD 901) and a General Information (CJD 903) sheet that includes filing fee information.

The new forms will be accepted for filing on or after August 1, 2013. The new forms and informational material are located here.

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