All parents are legally obligated to financially support their children. In Massachusetts, child support refers to a sum of money paid by one parent to the other to help with the costs of child-raising.
Under Massachusetts law, the obligation to pay child support remains in effect until the child attains the age of 18. However, in many cases, child support may continue up until the age of 23 as detailed below.
Massachusetts has formulated a set of guidelines that are used to calculate the amount of child support that a parent must pay. Child Support Guidelines have been devised on the basis of the weekly income of both the parents. It does not matter whether the parent is working or not. In some cases, the Court may order both parents to pay support if the child is not in their care.
How to Apply for Child Support in MA?
Whether you are seeking child support or think you’ll be obligated to pay it, you should consider consulting an attorney as there are several factors that impact how child support will be calculated. In addition to knowing the latest changes to the law and child support guidelines, experienced attorneys will know the significant factors that judges focus upon when calculating child support.
Child support may be sought upon the filing of a complaint for divorce or complaint for custody-support-parenting time for unmarried parents. The Court has the authority to order payment of child support during the pendency of the proceedings upon the filing of a motion for temporary orders.
Computation of Child Support Payments
The Probate and Family Court will determine the amount of child support using the specific support guidelines that the state has enacted. The child support formula that the Court will apply involves a somewhat complex arithmetical computation. See the child support worksheet.
Key factors that the judge will consider while determining child support generally include the income of each parent, costs of daycare, the costs of medical/dental/vision insurance, and support paid for other children that are not covered by the action before the Court.
Inclusions in the Child Support Order
A child support order in MA will typically include:
- Financial support for necessities (food, clothes, and shelter)
- Medical insurance coverage
- Childcare costs
The order could also include the following, depending on the individual circumstances of a case:
- Uninsured medical/dental/visions/mental health costs
- Visitation travel expenses
- Expenses incurred on extracurricular activities
When does Child Support Stop in MA?
In Massachusetts, child support payments may end when:
- The child turns 18, except when the child is still primarily dependent on the custodial parent. The child is considered no longer dependent if he or she is employed full-time, has joined the military, is married, or has moved out of the home, except for college.
- The child turns 23, if the child is enrolled in an undergrad college program full-time.
- The child turns 23, except when the child is disabled.
Modifications to a Child Support Order
To be enforceable, child support must be court-approved. Therefore, if the income of the parents fluctuates, child support may be modified. A parent may approach the Court when there has been a significant change in circumstances (these include new child support guidelines) and seek a modification of child support. Once again, before seeking a modification, one should consult with an attorney.
Is a Bonus Considered a Part of Income for Child Support?
If a parent receives a bonus, it would typically be considered as part of the income for the purpose of computing child support. The Massachusetts Court treats bonuses just like any other income of a parent under the Child Support Guidelines.
James H. (Jay) Davis III
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