A Probate and Family Court judge may modify an existing judgment if there has been a material and significant change in circumstances. For example, if the former spouse paying alimony has a material and significant change in his or her income, the alimony order may be modified accordingly.
Despite the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, alimony is not always something that a court has the ability to modify, even if there is a later change in circumstances. If spouses come to a settlement agreement, they may agree to make certain issues, such as alimony, that will not be capable of a later modification, even if there has been a material and significant change in circumstances. Similarly, under most circumstances, how property is divided is not something that is subject to a later modification.
Issues relating to the care, custody, and support of any children are often modified, including visitation schedules. A change in health insurance available to the parties may also warrant a modification. Parents may seek a modification as a child nears college-age, if the judgment does not already account for how that expense will be paid. Additionally, parties may seek a modification as to who will be permitted to claim the children as dependency exemptions on their respective tax returns.
Child support, however, may be modified if the existing order is “inconsistent” with the application of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. Further, the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines changed on August 1, 2013, meaning that many cases may seek a modification of the existing child support order.
To learn about your options, call the attorneys at Finn & Eaton, P.C. at 781 484-1066 or email us to schedule a free one-hour consultation.