Since its amendment in 2013, Supplemental Probate and Family Court Rule 412 has provided litigants/parties with the ability to jointly request that the Court modify an existing judgment or order administratively and without the need for a formal hearing. While such administrative modifications can cover a myriad of provisions, including child support, actions pending under M.G.L. 209A (abuse prevention orders) are specifically excluded from the modification procedures set forth in Rule 412.
Massachusetts Courts allow for the filing of a Joint Petition For Modification Of Child Support Judgment, when both parents agree that an adjustment to an existing child support judgment is warranted. Recent amendments to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines provide that a child support judgment may be modified when "there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from the application of the Child Support Guidelines." Modifying child support by joint petition may streamline uncontested support modification actions, as the Court may address such matters administratively and without the need for a hearing.
Picture this: it is a Tuesday morning, at 8:30 a.m., and you arrive at the Probate and Family Court with your attorney to appear for a scheduled hearing on a contested motion that you filed. Once you wait on a long line to get through the metal detectors, you enter the hallway outside the courtroom and your attorney checks the motion calendar list for the Judge assigned to your case. You first learn that your case has been referred to the Probation Department on a different floor of the courthouse for mediation, and your journey through motion practice in the Probate and Family Court begins.