Understanding how child support works in Massachusetts
Under Massachusetts law, parents have an obligation to support their children regardless of marital status. That means that if you are divorced, legally separated, or never married but living separately, child support payments come into play.
Although child support is intended to provide for the children, it is paid to the other parent rather than directly to the children. Still, child support is legally separate and distinct from spousal support (alimony), which is paid to support the former spouse rather than the children.
In general, the non-custodial parent - that is, the parent who spends less time with the children - pays child support to the parent with primary physical custody. In cases where physical custody is shared, the parent with greater income will typically still have to pay child support. The only situation in which no child support needs to be paid is when the parents have equal or nearly equal parenting time and equal or nearly equal income.
In addition to actual financial support, child support may also include providing health insurance for the children.
How child support works in Massachusetts
If you are the custodial parent, you likely want to receive as much child support as you reasonably can in order to better take care of your children. If you are the non-custodial parent, you want to support your children, but you also need to stay within your means and take care of your own needs. In either case, the amount of child support is an important concern.
Massachusetts uses a standard mathematical formula to resolve child support cases, the Child Support Guidelines. This formula takes into account:
- Income of each parent
- Number of children
- Ages of the children
- Health insurance costs
- Amount of parenting time for each parent
- Childcare costs
Once child support is set, the order remains in place until either the children are legally emancipated (usually between the ages of 18 and 21 or 23 depending on circumstances) or a court decision modifies the child support order. If you are obligated to pay child support, that obligation continues even if you lose your job, declare bankruptcy, are disabled or otherwise experience serious hardship. Your only recourse is to go back to court.
Working toward child support solutions that meet your needs and your children's
Attorney Brittany J. Smith understands just how complex child support disputes can be, and she knows how to help. Whether you're moving toward a divorce or separation, were never married to the other parent, or need to modify or enforce an existing child support order, you can count on attorney Smith and her legal team to advocate for your interests and your child's needs with compassion, tenacity and integrity.
Don't try to handle a complex child support matter alone. Get the Law Office of Brittany J. Smith on your side. Contact us online or call (413) 781-7170.