Once a Massachusetts court enters a judgment in family law case, the parties must obey its provisions unless and until they are modified by the court. If something changes after the judgment is entered, such as a job loss or change or changes in the lives of parents or children, the question of what action to take arises. If the change is significant and long-term, then bringing a modification case should be considered.
If a modification case is filed, the court will consider the following:
- What was ordered?
- What changes have occurred since the entry of the judgment? Are they significant and long-term? Please bear in mind that the court is very busy and cannot get bogged down with what might reasonably be considered minor or short-term changes and will not get involved in an attempt to review a judgment already made based on the same or similar circumstances.
- What should the court do about the changed circumstances? If the issue is financial, then the court will review its order based on the parties’ current situation. If the issue involves parenting, the court will re-determine what is in the best interest of the children based the existing family situation.
- Note: once marital property is divided in a divorce, the court will not review that division.
- Attorney’s fees and costs are rarely assessed in a modification case, unless the actions of one of the parties sink to the level of being frivolous.