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Child support expenses

Expenses used by states to calculate child support can vary, and child support may or may not include things like childcare or extracurricular activities.

Lisa Ann Ruggieri | Sep 19, 2017

Here is what you need to know under the new 2017 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines…

Reduction in Child Support for Adult Children Ages 18-23 The 2017 Guidelines addresses the confusion surrounding college expenses and child support for adult children (Ages 18-23) in Massachusetts. The 2017 guidelines provides for a twenty-five (25%) reduction in child support for adult children (Ages 18-23) across Massachusetts. The 25% reduction does not apply to 18-year-old children in high school but takes effect after adult children graduate from high school. The new rule imposes a presumptive cap on child support at 75% of a standard guidelines order, however, judges still have the authority to exercise discretion for ordering child support for adult children. Presumptive Cap on College Contribution: 50% of the cost of UMass Amherst The 2017 Guidelines places a presumptive cap on each parent's college contribution at 50% of the annual cost of tuition, room, board and fees at the University of Massachusetts ("UMass") Amherst. The new rule does not require parents to contribute to their adult children's college expenses. Instead, the rule provides that if parents are ordered to contribute to college, then said contributions should not exceed 50% of the annual cost of UMass Amherst unless the Court enters findings supporting a deviation. Eliminating the "In Between" Category for Parents with 33-50% Parenting Time The 2017 Guidelines removes the "in-between" category for parents sharing parenting time equally or approximately equally (i.e. 33-50%). The prior 2013 Guidelines previously provided for a deviation when a payor had less than one-third (1/3) of the time and an average calculation for cases where parenting time was between 33% and 50% of the time. The 2017 Guidelines address concerns that prior guidelines increased litigation and shifted the focus from a parenting plan that was in the best interests of the children to a contest about the parenting time to decrease child support. The 2017 guidelines attempts to clarify the deviation factor and highlight the importance of the appropriate use of judge's discretion to deviate from the guidelines based on the unique circumstances of a particular family. Capped Adjustment for Health Care Costs and Child Care insurance and child care The 2017 Guidelines takes a "share the burden" approach which places a presumptive cap on medical insurance and child care deductions at 15% of the total order. This provides for appropriate adjustments for health care and child care deductions under the new formula for parents struggling to pay out-of-pocket for these expenses. The 2017 guidelines do not provide a "dollar-for-dollar" credit but will make appropriate adjustments to avoid these health care and child care expenses overtaking or eliminating the support order. Self-Employment: Imputation of Income and Attribution of Income The 2017 Guidelines provides a new approach to dealing with income that parents fail to report for tax purposes and it clarifies how to handle cases involving self-employed parents in which unreported income (often in the form of personal expenses paid by a business) are common. Imputed income is income that a parent actually receives but does not appear on tax documents (i.e. housing benefits, automobile expenses, or other personal living expenses paid by the business). Attributed income results from a finding that either parent is capable of working and is unemployed or underemployed. The emphasis of most of the changes is on including additional income when appropriate, such as self-employment income, undocumented income and clarifying will draw a clear distinction between "imputed" income and "attributed" income. Alimony and Unallocated Support The 2017 Guidelines encourages the Court and the parties to consider the tax-effect of support when choosing between child support, alimony and unallocated support. Raising the Minimum Amount of Child Support to $25 per week The 2017 Guidelines raises the minimum presumptive child support order from $18.46/week to $25/week.

Andrea Maureen Wells | Aug 30, 2017

Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines -- Changes for 2017

Changes Based on Children's Ages The 2017 Child Support Guidelines (CSG) will now apply a discount formula when there are one or more children over the age of 18 but who are still unemancipated. This "discounted" formula varies, based on the total number of children, and the number who are over 18. For example, if the child support base amount is $100.00 per week for one child, under the current CSG, having two children would apply at 125% formula, making support $125.00, no matter the age of the unemancipated children. Under the 2017 CSG, that same family, with a base of $100, will have the same 125% formula applied only if both children are under 18. If one child is age 18 or over (and the other younger than 18), the formula will be 109%, so the resulting support will be $109.00 per week. If both children are over 18 (but still unemancipated), the child support formula will be 94%, or $94.00 per week. Once the new formula has been applied, the support is apportioned between the parents (as it is under the current Guidelines too) based on the parties' income. Thus, the over 18 discount applies proportionally between the parents, and it is not just a simple % off the existing child support amount. Changes Based on Health Insurance Costs While the last version of the CSG deducted the cost of health insurance from the income of the parent who pays for the insurance, the 2017 Guidelines not only deducts it from the income of the paying parent, but then also apportions the cost between the parties based on their incomes. So for example, if the Child Support Payor has income of $1,000 per week, and pays health insurance costs of $150 per week for the family, that Payor's income is reduced to $850.00 for purposes of the income available for child support. The 2017 CSG then apportions the $150.00 cost of health insurance between the parents so that in effect, each parent is paying a share of the health insurance in proportion to their income. Using the same example above where the Payor has income of $1,000.00 (minus $150.00 for the health insurance), if the Child Support Recipient has income of $600.00 per week, the Recipient would in effect, "pay" 41% of the health insurance costs, or $62.00 (.41 x $150 = $62). This "payment" happens by way of a discount to the Child Support Payor. One final note, however: there is a limit of 15% on the discount that will be applied to the Payor's support, and in this example, the limit would be $27.00 (and not $62). In some cases, the entire health care cost adjustment will be less that the maximum 15%, and in some it will be higher. The CSG adjustment will be the lower of the two. Changes Based On Child Care Costs Similar to the apportionment and adjustment for health care (see section above), there is also an apportionment and adjustment to support for the cost of child care. In our example (CS payor at $1,000, and the Recipient at $600 per week of income), if the Recipient pays for child care at a rate of $150.00 per week, the Recipient deducts the cost from income ($600-$150) before the base support is calculated. Then we apply a formula based on the parent's proportion of the total income. In this case, because the Recipient's income has decreased, his/her percentage of income is now 31% (instead of 41% as in the prior section), so the child care costs are apportioned at 31% for the Recipient, and 69% for the Payor. Thus the Payor's support would be adjusted upward to include the share of child care costs. Once again, however, there is a limit of 15%, so the lower of the two would be applied, resulting in additional support of $32.00 per week in this case. Summary It is usually best to seek the advice of experienced counsel if there are any concerns that your child support could or should be modified. The examples given here are simplistic, and the facts of everyone's case are unique and (usually) more complicated. There are other factors that the Court will also consider in fashioning a support order -- too many to include here -- but alimony and the cost of college are two that occur frequently in cases.