Mansfield Child Support Attorneys
How Is Child Support Determined in Massachusetts?
Much like child custody cases, child support cases can be nerve-wracking for parents. It can be difficult to toe the line between preserving your child's relationship with your ex and pursuing your best interests.
Ultimately, the goal of child support is to ensure that the child's financial needs are met. However, the process of determining child support can be complicated and varied. Our team at the Ostendorf Law Group, PLLC, can help you work towards a comprehensive child support arrangement that supports you and your child's needs.
What Should I Know About Child Support in Massachusetts?
Child support laws in Massachusetts provide specific guidelines for the court to consider in a divorce case. Some of these factors include:
- The gross annual incomes of each parent
- How many children need support
- Expenses incurred by the children (such as the cost of daycare, medical insurance, etc.)
- The needs of the child (what standard of living the parents can feasibly be expected to provide for their child given their incomes)
The number of factors that play into child support in Massachusetts makes it one of the most expensive states in the country for noncustodial parents paying for child support.
Whether parents are divorced, separated, or were never even married in the first place, the noncustodial parent is responsible for paying child support. The custodial parent will receive the child support payments.
Custodial parents can receive child support from a court after filing one of the following complaints:
- Complaint about a 209 protective order. If your ex violates a 209 protective order, you can file a complaint with a court. Under certain circumstances, violating a 209 protective order may result in the violator losing custody privileges, which in turn leads to child support payments as they're now considered a noncustodial parent.
- Complaint for a divorce. During the divorce proceedings, you and your ex will establish whether or not child support is needed. Most courts will ask parents to go through mediation to reach a mutually beneficial child support arrangement, but if you can't agree in negotiations, child support may also be determined in court.
- Complaint to establish paternity. If you successfully establish paternity for your child's father, and they're a noncustodial parent, you're eligible to receive child support.
- Complaint for child custody. A custody arrangement determines who the custodial and noncustodial parents are. Once a custody arrangement is reached, the noncustodial parent will typically be asked to pay for child support.
- Complaint for modification. It's possible that, since your divorce, you or your ex have experienced a change in circumstances that requires modification to your child support order. Whether you no longer need support or require more of it, you can file a modification complaint with a court.
- Complaint for separate support ("legal separation"). During legal separations, one parent often takes custody of any children involved. If you're the custodial parent in a separation, you can request child support from your soon-to-be-ex.
As you can see, a large variety of factors determine whether you're eligible to receive child support from your ex. An experienced child support attorney can help you determine whether you're eligible for child support. Additionally, an attorney will work with you to ensure you file the right forms with your court and will fight for your parental rights in the courtroom if necessary.
2017 Adjustments to Child Support in Massachusetts
As we mentioned earlier, Massachusetts is one of the most expensive states for child support payers. Recently, a series of modifications made to child support laws in Massachusetts aimed to make child support arrangements more equitable for the noncustodial parent. These changes include:
- A 25% reduction in child support payment for adult children aged 18-23
- A cap on college contributions for students of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst amounting to 50% of total tuition costs
- The complete removal of 'hybrid' child support arrangements for parents who have 33-50% physical custody of their children
- Changes to how medical insurance and child care are factored into child support payments
- Increased ability for courts to deviate from child support laws where they see fit
Essentially, these adjustments reduce the burden of noncustodial parents paying for child support, particularly for parents with adult children. The removal of hybrid child support arrangements is also a significant change to Massachusetts child support law.
Child support laws are constantly changing. If you require legal assistance interpreting how recent changes in child support law may affect your child support arrangement, we can help. From helping educate clients about custody and support obligations, to dealing with payments in arrears or making modifications as circumstances change, the Ostendorf Law Group, PLLC, serving Bristol County, offers more than five decades of skilled and attentive legal representation that can make a difference in the lives of your family.
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