How do I modify my divorce judgment in Massachusetts?

Over time, a family's circumstances may change. When transformations occur, it may be time to make adjustments. If this is you, you may be wondering, for example, how to alter your divorce decree once your situation has changed. The good news is that a there are options.

The first and most important step is to retain a lawyer. An experienced family law attorney can help you proceed through legal technicalities associated with your case. Next, this professional can secure a copy of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Department's Complaint for Modification form for you. This will ask you for contact information and your ex-spouse's name. It may also request information regarding your divorce settlement, including the original terms of the judgment.

A portion of this form will cover the type of modification that you wish to pursue. Generally, the form includes one selection for child support modifications and one box for other legal matters. You will also need to provide information regarding your change of circumstances or the reason for your desired modification. For example, you might mention changes in your financial situation, which have resulted from job loss. This may make payment obligations of the original divorce decree more difficult to complete.

Another portion of the document will provide room for new terms. You may work with your attorney to develop a proposal for a new schedule or plan. In this portion of the modification request, you will need to detail the terms that you wish the court to approve.

Finally, you will need to sign and date the completed form and provide copies for all parities. The completed form should be brought to the local court that issued the original divorce order. You may need to pay fees for the filing. At this time, you should obtain a domestic relations summons from the court clerk.

Next, you will follow any relevant Massachusetts court rules pertaining to service. Eventually, you will be given an official court date where you will be able to discuss your modification request with a judge.

While these are the basic, initial steps for modifying your divorce decree, there are several administrative and legal issues, which would best be left to an experienced attorney. If your new situation means that it will be difficult to proceed with the decree, as is, then you need to ensure that amendments are made in accordance with the law. If you would like to learn more about the process, take the time to speak to a qualified family law attorney in your area.