Whether a parent is obligated to pay child support, and how much that support should be, is an often-litigated issue that is likely to be resolved through the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. There are many factors that might justify a deviation from the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines so it is important to speak with an attorney about your situation in order to get a clearer idea as to what to expect for a child support obligation.
The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines changed on August 1, 2013. While child support in Massachusetts is still calculated using a formula, that formula has changed, and judges are given more discretion than before in deviating from the presumed child support obligation.
The recent changes to child support include:
- Child support is now calculated in four different ways, depending on how much time a parent spends with his or her children and how expenditures are split: less than one-third, one-third, more than one-third but less than 50%, and equally or approximately equally.
- Income from means tested benefits (for example, SSI, TAFDC, and SNAP food stamps) are excluded from calculating available income.
- In cases where income is to be attributed, the availability of employment at the attributed income level must be considered.
- The new Guidelines clarify that income from second jobs or overtime may be considered by the court, regardless of the history of earning this income.
- The new Guidelines clarify how to allocate income between parents when the combined available income is greater than $250,000.
- Clarification as to child support or college contribution for children over age 18, and the consideration of any order for college contribution in any weekly child support order.
- Additional reasons for deviating from the Guidelines, including extraordinary health insurance expenses, child care costs that are disproportionate to the paying parent’s income, and when one parent is providing less than one-third of the parenting time.
- The standard for modifying an existing child support obligation is consistent with Morales v. Morales, 464 Mass. 507 (2013).
- Recognition that the parties might benefit from calculating alimony before child support, or child support before alimony, to take advantage of differences in their tax brackets.
We are the creators of the only free and accurate Massachusetts child support calculator application for Android OS, which can be found by searching the Google Play store for “MA Child Support Calculator.”
To learn about your options, call our Child Support attorneys at (781) 484-1066 or email us to schedule a free one-hour consultation.