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Children are entitled to be financially supported by both parents and child support is normally paid by the person who is designated the non-custodial parent. Child support is usually paid in weekly installments and can be paid directly to the custodial parent or through the Massachusetts Department of Revenue by direct wage assignment. Wage assignment means that the support will come directly from a paycheck. The parent that receives the child support can use the money as he or she deems appropriate to support the child.
In Massachusetts, there are guidelines that are crucial to calculating an appropriate amount of financial support for a child. Massachusetts has created a worksheet that calculates the amount of support when financial information is imputed. A sample of the worksheet can be found on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website www.ma.gov.
The child support worksheet takes into account several factors such as the amounts and sources of income, the number of children to be supported, costs paid for medical, dental and vision insurance, cost paid for child care, amounts paid towards other child support obligations, and the age of the children as it pertains to emancipation.
Child Support Modifications in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, child support can either be established by an agreement of the parents or by the decision of a Probate and Family Court judge. The amount of support, however determines, will become part of a temporary court order or a permanent judgment. Even if the amount becomes part of a final judgment, child support orders are not set in stone forever. Income can increase due to a new job or decrease due to loss of employment and changes in income can create a situation where a parent may need to modify the existing order for support. When there is a change in income for either the payor or payee either one may file a Complaint for Modification and request an adjustment to the child support obligation. The order for child support will be modified if the court finds that the current order is no longer consistent with an application of the child support guidelines.
Changes to Child Support Modifications
When considering a change to an existing order, Massachusetts child support modifications will take into consideration changes in the gross income of the parties. However, child support modifications may also review changes to certain expenses paid on behalf of children such as day care costs, changes to the cost for health care, dental care, and vision insurance, changes in uninsured medical expenses for a parent or child, or changes in the child’s age.
As of September 15, 2017, the Administrative Offices of the Probate and Family Court will administer changes to the Child Support Guidelines and the Worksheet. These changes will have an impact on how child support is determined. Having on your side an experienced lawyer for child support modification can be critical to obtaining the best result possible.