Bristol County Modification Pilot Program

Bristol Probate and Family Court launched a new pilot program on May 16, 2011 that seeks to streamline the process for how Complaints for Modification of child support and health insurance matters are served and filed. If the program is successful we might be seeing it in other family courts across the state.

The pilot program includes new forms that allow a party to file a Complaint for Modification and a Motion for Temporary Order simultaneously. There is also a form Complaint without the Motion for Temporary Orders, which will instead set a case management Conference at least 45 days after the issuance of the summons.

The biggest change, however, is the way the Complaint for Modification is to be served. This new program is allowing service to be completed by first class mail. This is a big change from Rule 4, which requires that service be completed by constable, sheriff or disinterested third party. This program allows for proof of service by testifying that the opposing party contacted the party who filed about the matter, called DOR about the complaint or answered the complaint.

These changes will likely make it easier and less expensive for pro se litigants to file their own claims, but it will be interesting to see what issues regarding service of the complaint develop in the coming months, and whether or not there is an increase or decrease in the number of litigants appearing to defend these matters .