Child Support Laws in Massachusetts
Child support is a financial obligation imposed by the Probate and Family Court in a divorce or paternity action for the following reasons:
- To minimize the economic impact on children of a divorce or those borne out of wedlock
- To encourage joint parental responsibility
- To continue the standard of living the children enjoyed or would enjoy if the family were intact
- To meet the survival needs of the children
- To protect a level of income of parents at the low end of the income range whether or not they are on public assistance
- To take into account the non-monetary contributions of both the custodial and non- custodial parents
- To allow for orders and wage assignments that can be adjusted as income increases or decreases
Child Support Guidelines in Massachusetts (New)
In 2013, Massachusetts enacted new Child Support Guidelines. The new formula that is used, generally, results in a slight reduction in support for orders already in place. In order to determine a child support order, you need the gross weekly income of both parents as well as the weekly amount of health and dental care, daycare expenses, and other support paid.
The most noteworthy changes to the guidelines include:
- The percentages used to determine a child support obligation are lower, reduced from 15%-26% to approximately 11%-22%. The result is an overall reduction in support orders.
- There is a larger adjustment for each, subsequent child.
- The guidelines continue to base the order on the first $250,000 or joint income. There is now a formula that considers any income above $250,000. However, it remains unclear how this number is to be considered.
- Public assistance income (SSI, TAFDC, SNAP, etc.) should NOT be included for guidelines calculations.
- Income from second jobs or overtime may or may not be considered, at each judge's discretion.
- The new child support formula is presumptively based on the payor having approximately one-third of the parenting time. There is also a new approach when a parent has between one-third and one-half the parenting time. And, still, a third approach when the parent has approximately one-half the parenting time. Traditionally, there were only two calculations: primary custody and shared custody.
- The court will now consider the living arrangements of the children between the ages of 18 and 23. An order for post-secondary education contribution is considered when determining a support order
- Judges may now consider deviating from the standard calculation when the payor parent has less than one-third parenting time and when there are extraordinary health insurance expenses or child care costs that are disproportionate to income.
- The new guidelines are a sufficient change in circumstance to warrant a modification of a previously ordered child support obligation (in cases where the new guidelines result in a different support amount from the current order).
Do These Changes Affect You?
These changes likely affect a majority of current support orders. If you are currently paying or receiving child support, and believe these changes apply to your order, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney in Woburn MA.
In order to modify your order, you need permission from the Court. Kathleen Black Reynolds, Esq. has the experience and skills to assist you through the recent changes to the alimony laws.
Attorney Kathleen Black Reynolds, Esq. will provide the legal support, knowledge and skills you need. She passionately advocates for her clients to obtain the best possible solution in an economically efficient manner. She will consult with you throughout the process to answer your questions, and give you realistic and practical explanations of your options.
If you have children, Kathleen Black Reynolds, Esq. understands that their best interests coincide with your need to be financially and emotionally secure during and after the process so that you can provide for them. When you are vulnerable, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side so that you are not taken advantage of by your spouse and/or the legal process.
Conveniently located in Woburn center, contact family attorney Delaney for a complimentary consultation: 781.935.7100
The new Guidelines can be viewed at: http://www.mass.gov/courts/childsupport/2013-child-support-guidelines.pdf.
Here is a link to the redlined version of the Guidelines that delineates the differences between the old and the new: http://www.mass.gov/courts/childsupport/2012-task-force-recommendations-redlined-against-2009-child-support-guidelines.pdf
Here is the link to the new guidelines worksheet: http://www.mass.gov/courts/childsupport/cjd304-worksheet-child-support-guidelines.pdf
Disclaimer - The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.