What You Need to Know About Massachusetts Child Support Laws
Child support is a complicated matter, whether you are the one paying or receiving the support. Here is everything you need to know about child support laws in Massachusetts child support laws.
What is Child Support
Child support is a monetary amount that the parent who does not have custody of the child pays to the parent that has custody. In the court of law, both parents are expected to support the child, so the monetary amount that the noncustodial parent pays, counts as their contribution toward the child’s living expenses.
What are possible outcomes following a child custody court ruling?
Legal vs. Physical custody
Legal custody is the legal term for the authority that the parent has to make legal decisions regarding the child’s life. These include decisions about healthcare, education, and any other parental decisions that occur while one is raising a child.
Physical custody dictates the duration that the child is allowed to live with the parents.
The four most common decisions following the child custody process are as follows:
- Sole legal custody: Only one parent is allowed to make decisions about the child’s upbringing.
- Shared legal custody: Both parents are allowed to make decisions about the child’s childcare.
- Sole physical custody: The child is only legally allowed for their prior living arrangements to be with one parent.
- Shared physical custody: The child is legally allowed to spend time with both parents.
The shared custody does not necessarily have to be a 50/50 split.
How is child support calculated in Massachusetts?
When deciding how much child support the noncustodial payment parent should pay, oftentimes the court looks at three factors. These three factors include:
- The needs of the child
- The age of the child
- How many children does the noncustodial parent have
These three factors above are important because they make every case result in a different amount being paid. For instance, if the child has a specific medical condition that requires them to have more support, then oftentimes the child support will be a greater amount.
What happens if the noncustodial parent marries again?
If the noncustodial parent remarries, the court will in most cases not look at the new spouses’ income. The new spouse’s income will only be considered if the parent paying child support is saddled with debt, if the noncustodial parent has left their job to avoid paying child support, or if the noncustodial parent is accused of hiding assets.
How can you change a child support order?
There are many circumstances in which an individual may wish to change their support order. If the custodial parent has started making far more than the noncustodial parent, the court may agree that a change in child support is necessary. This can happen if a non-custodial parent has an increase in salary or a loss of income.
To file for a change in child support, you must finish and then file a Complaint for Modification. Both the custodial and the noncustodial parent can ask for a modification on child support.
For the court order for a child support modification, it must go through the judge who will need to look at the current child support order. The judge will then consider what circumstances have changed since the original order, and while reviewing the financial statements that appeared to child support guidelines, they will reach a decision. The decision will be based not just on the change in income and assets that one parent incurred, but if the amount of time that the child stays with each parent has changed. The parent’s health insurance also plays a part in the judges’ decision.