What Are The Risks Of Filing For Modification in Massachusetts?

There have been changes since your last court order. It may be your finances, which impacts support, or if a child is involved, something may have happened that requires a change in the parenting plan or custody arrangement. However, diving into a modification without stepping back and doing a thorough analysis can wind up costing you money, your reputation, and in some cases, put you in a worse situation than you were before.

On certain issues, if there has been a “material and substantial change in circumstances” since the last order, either party can ask the court for modification. And sometimes, it makes perfect sense to do that. If there are changes that make it difficult to follow the order, and you ignore the order, you may be found to be in contempt and suffer significant penalties.

However, whether you should actually file for modification is worth careful consideration because it carries risk.

First, there’s a risk that you lose money and credibility. If you’re not careful in selecting a reputable family law lawyer and you instead hire someone who’s happy to take your money to file a modification that should never have been filed, you can end up wasting money on legal fees.

The other cost can be much more significant. If you file a bad case, your credibility can potentially take a hit with the judge. Family law courts are often backlogged. Therefore, if you file a case that doesn’t belong in court, the judge will likely not appreciate it. And in family court, cases are assigned to specific judges. So unless a judge retires or moves to another county, which is not often, the same judge that’s not happy about your frivolous filing, may be hearing your case in the future when you have a legitimate issue to present. They don’t forget.

Finally, the worst case scenario is that you can end up with an order that’s worse than the one that’s already in place. A quality lawyer can help you assess whether there are any counterclaims by the other side that can potentially put you at risk. For example, a parent may file an ill-advised modification to change the custody arrangement, get rejected, and end up paying more in support.

The bottom line is that before moving forward with a modification, it makes sense to set up an assessment with a reliable family law attorney. Modification issues are fact-specific. Therefore, having a trusted lawyer review your circumstances and advise you on whether and how to proceed can save you money, aggravation, and your reputation as a party in court.

If you have any questions about modifications or any other family law issue, feel free to contact us.

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