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How is Child Support Determined in a Divorce in Massachusetts?


As rewarding as it can be to raise a child, it can also get expensive. In the state of Massachusetts, whether you are happily married or divorced, you will have to bear the financial responsibility of caring for your children.

The family law in Massachusetts dictates that both parents have a duty to provide for their child. If you are the non-custodial parent (your former spouse) has the primary physical custody, you will have to make child support payments. The custodial parent also remains responsible for bearing child support costs, but it is assumed by the court that they will spend the required money directly on the child.

If you are in the middle of a divorce and have children, or you are involved in a paternity case, your main worry could be child support right now. It’s essential to work with a skilled legal counsel that can strongly advocate for your right and interests.

At Davis Law Group, Jay Davis and his team have over 22 years of experience handling divorce and family law cases in Massachusetts. Jay has an in-depth understanding of how the system works, which allows him to resolve family legal matters in a way that fully protects his clients’ interests while preserving relationships. Call today at (617) 752-6216 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.

How Child Support Payments Are Calculated in Massachusetts

The amount of child support the parents are ordered to pay, depends on a variety of factors.

Before we dive into these factors, let’s clear one thing up: you can agree to pay more than the guidelines amount with court approval, of course, but almost never less. It is also possible for the court to increase or decrease the payment amount if it’s considered to be in the child’s best interest.

In order to calculate the support payments, both parents’ gross incomes are the first thing to be taken into account. Gross income (in this case) is the money you receive from all sources, such as salary, wages, bonuses, pensions, royalties, dividends, social security income, disability income, and military pay. Then the parents’ combined incomes are added, and the support amount is split in a proportional manner. For example, if you and your ex-spouse make $4,000 and $6,000 per month, then your proportional support responsibilities will be 40% and 60%, respectively.

The parents’ contributions must also cover the educational expenses and health insurance for the child. If the parents can afford it, the court may also require parents to split the expenses related to extracurricular activities like private school or piano lessons. Also keep in mind that if one parent is intentionally underemployed or unemployed, and reports a smaller income just to get away with paying lesser support, the court can order the said parent to pay a higher amount. In other words, any plan to avoid paying child support by using an unemployment excuse won’t work!

If you are worried that your spouse is not going to pay the support payments or you need to get the support amount adjusted, talking to an experienced Massachusetts divorce attorney can help. Jay Davis has helped thousands of divorced parents successfully navigate the complicated matters of child custody and child support. Give him a call at (617) 752-6216 for a free legal consultation regarding your case.

Challenging the Child Support Payments Amount

In an ideal world, the legal justice system would be perfectly fair and unbiased 100% of the time. But it’s not. The court will do its best to decide an amount that’s appropriate for your child, but the way it is divided may not be totally fair.

The good news is that you can request the court to adjust this amount before the order is in place. However, you will have to prove that the amount you’re proposing will be in your child’s best interest. In order to decide whether the support payments should be adjusted, the judge will consider the following:

  • The parents’ agreement to a different child support amount
  • The amount necessary for a parent to self-support the child
  • The medical, insurance, and other expenses for the child
  • Any extraordinary health insurance or medical expenses of the parent (such as cancer treatment expenses)
  • The special needs of the child (if any)
  • Any huge difference in the parents’ standard of living
  • Whether the non-custodial parent is in prison
  • Whether the application of the order would result in an unfair outcome
  • Whether the child and parent can be reunited after the child was temporarily removed from their custody due to domestic violence/neglect

You can also modify the amount if you’ve been paying the support for more than 3 years, but only if:

  • The health insurance previously ordered is no longer available, or only available at an unjustified cost
  • There is a significant change in circumstances, like birth of a new child, loss of a job, or injury to the parent that impacts their ability to pay support
  • If both you and your ex-spouse agree to a modification in the payment amount, you can file a joint petition for the same (in these cases, the new arrangement is usually approved without a court hearing, unless the judge has any concerns or questions)

Contact Davis Law Group to Get a Hassle-Free Resolution

I have known Jay for about ten years. I called him with a problem that had arisen with my divorce that had been finalized ten years. He spent over an hour on the phone with me explaining what everything meant and why I needed to comply with the request. He insisted that if I had any additional questions or concerns, to call him back and he would help me out. Jay is the type of attorney that anyone would want and be lucky to have in their corner. I would highly recommend Jay to my friends and acquaintances” — Bob Haley

Are you worried your ex-spouse will go to extreme lengths to avoid paying child support? Do you suspect your ex is using the support payments for themselves and not your child?

Jay Davis and his tenacious team of legal associates may not have a magic wand they can wave over your ex to change their behavior, but they can definitely make them pay! Whether you are the custodial parent or the non-custodial one, Jay knows that both sides can experience issues when it comes to divorce and child support.

If you need help with establishing, enforcing, or modifying the child support orders, Jay can help. Even if you only need a little bit of free advice from a Massachusetts family attorney who’s been in the game for over 22 years, call Jay today at (617) 752-6216 or leave him a message online.

The post How is Child Support Determined in a Divorce in Massachusetts? first appeared on Davis Law Group.
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