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New Ma. child support guidelines

Boston, MA |

I was under the impression that the new ma. child support guidelines would benefit the parent who has sole physical custody, especially if there are a number of kids and the parent can not work because the children are young and have different medical and educational issues. But someone recently said that the new guidelines would most likely lower an existing child support order if it was above guidelines, even if there are circumstances that require it to be. I understand there are guidelines to modify and that you need a change in circumstances, but what if the parent receiving the support wants to modify the current order, and has the circumstances, and one of them is the father is going to got a raise, will that matter or are the guidelines lower now?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. If you know how much the other parent makes, you can calculate what your child support order should be. Just search for the MA child support guidelines calculator on line and plug in the numbers. Whether the new guidelines result in a raise or reduction of child support depends on when, and under which guidelines, the old child support order was calculated.

  2. When Massachusetts made updates to the guidelines, it was because the calculations used resulted in support amounts that were well above the national average. Basically, nonresidential parents in Massachusetts, on average, were paying more than nonresidential parents in other states (e.g. closer to 25% of their income rather than something along the lines of 17 or 18%). This means that if everything else stayed exactly the same (both of your incomes, both of your health insurance costs, the amount either of you pay towards childcare or prior support orders), then your order would likely be lower under the new guidelines.

    If other things have changed, whether your order will go up or down will be based on the actual numbers.

  3. All things being equal, i.e., the income levels and deductible expenses, the new child support guidelines result in a slightly lower payment. However, if a payor were to get a raise enough to amount to a material change in circumstances, chances are the amount of support would still go up. Additionally, it appears that there is now more guidance for the judges in terms of deviations from the guidelines, which will hopefully result in the amounts that will not put either household at a greater disadvantage than they were before the new Guidelines were enacted. Good luck and I hope this helps!

    Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.

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