MASSACHUSETTS CHILD SUPPORT LAWS & REGULATIONS UPDATE 2023
A DECADE OF CHANGE: AN OVERVIEW OF MASSACHUSETTS’S CHILD SUPPORT LAWS AND REGULATIONS TIMELINE (2013-2023)
Massachusetts’s child support laws have undergone important changes over the past decade to ensure that children receive adequate financial support and parents’ responsibilities are met.
2013: Child Support Guidelines Update
– Regular updates of child support guidelines to align with economic realities.
2014: Income Verification Enhancements
– Introduction of enhanced income verification methods for accurate calculations.
2015: Holistic Child Well-being Focus
– Emphasis on the overall well-being of the child in child support considerations.
2016: Responsive to Changing Dynamics
– Consideration of changing family dynamics in child support calculations.
2017: Strengthening Enforcement Measures
– Introduction of robust enforcement measures for consistent child support payments.
2018: Efficient Payment Disbursement
– Implementation of efficient methods for disbursement of child support payments.
2019: Simplified Modification Procedures
– Simplification of child support modification procedures for parents’ convenience.
2020: Online Resources Accessibility
– Provision of online resources for parents to manage child support cases.
2021: Ongoing Guidelines Review
– Continuous review and updates of child support guidelines.
2022: Encouraging Shared Parenting
– Emphasis on shared parenting arrangements for fair support calculations.
Massachusetts’s child support regulations reflect its commitment to ensuring children’s well-being and supporting families through a balanced approach.
Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines:
Massachusetts child support guidelines are created to be used by the justices of the state’s trial courts.
Massachusetts child support guidelines are applied whether the parents of the children are unmarried or married in temporary or permanent settings.
In all orders where Massachusetts child support is requested, a guideline worksheet must be completed, regardless of the income of the parties. When establishing these guidelines, due consideration must be given to the following principles:
1. MA Child Support Laws: Massachusetts child support guidelines minimize the economic impact on the child of the dissolved family
2. Massachusetts child support guidelines encourage joint parental responsibilities for child support in proportion to, or as a percentage of the parent’s income
3. MA Child Support Laws: Massachusetts child support guidelines provide the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents remained together
4. Massachusetts child support laws are applied to meet the child’s survival needs; if one parent enjoys a higher standard of living, the child should enjoy a proportional standard.
5. MA Child Support Laws: Massachusetts child support laws are applied to protect subsistence levels of income of parents at the low income range whether or not they are on public assistance
6. Massachusetts child support laws must take into account the non-monetary contributions of both the non-custodial and custodial parents
7. MA Child Support Laws: Massachusetts child support guidelines are applied to minimize problems or proof for the administration of the courts
8. Massachusetts child support guidelines allow for wage assignments that may be adjusted as income fluctuates
Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines: How does the State Determine Income
For the purpose of equitable distribution, Massachusetts child support guidelines are instituted under the state’s precise definition of income.
Massachusetts child support guidelines declare income as gross income from whatever source. These sources include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. MA Child Support Laws evaluate the couple’s salaries and wages, including tips and overtime, as well as income from self-employment
2. MA Child Support Laws evaluate the couple’s Commissions
3. MA Child Support Laws evaluate the couple’s Royalties
4. MA Child Support Laws observe the couple’s Severance Pay
5. MA Child Support Laws will take the couple’s bonuses into effect
6. MA Child Support Laws will evaluate the couple’s Interest and Dividends
7. Social Security
8. Income derived from partnerships/business
11. Income earned from trusts
12. Unemployment Compensation
13. Insurance benefits, including funds received from personal injury suits and disability
14. Income derived from trusts
15. Prizes or awards
16. Income derived from life insurance or endowment contracts
17. Contractual agreements
18. Gambling winnings or lottery winnings received either in the form of annuities or a lump sum
19. Spousal support
20. Veterans’ benefits
Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines: Factors in Setting the Child Support Order
Separate Maintenance Payments or Relationship to Alimony: so long as the child’s standard of living is not diminished, these guidelines shall not preclude the court from deciding that any order be denominated in whole or in part as a separate maintenance or alimony payments.
It is the responsibility of the legal counsel representing the involved parties to present the tax consequences of proposed order to the presiding court.
When setting a support order, the court may—under Massachusetts child support guidelines—issue orders regarding the claims of personal exemptions for child dependents between the spouses (parties) to the extent permitted by law.
Massachusetts child support guidelines recognize the principle that to maintain a residence and a reasonable standard of living for the youths, the custodial parent will choose to work.
In said cases, a disregard of the gross income of the custodial party must be applied up to a maximum of $20,000.
The formula—according to Massachusetts child support guidelines—should be adjusted where the income of the custodial party exceeds the $20,000 disregard after consideration of daycare expenses.
Massachusetts child support guidelines are intended to ensure a minimum subsistence level for non-custodial parents whose income falls below $100 per week.
That being said, it is the obligation of the parents to contribute to their children. The minimum order mandated in a child support case is $80.00 per month.
These Massachusetts child support guidelines are not applied where the combined gross income of the parents exceeds $135,000 or where the income of the non-custodial parent exceeds $100,000.
In child support cases where income exceeds said limits, the court will consider the award of support at the $100,000/$135,000 as a minimum level of support. Additional child support amounts may be awarded at the judge’s discretion.
Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines (Custody and Visitation)
Massachusetts child support guidelines are based on traditional custody and visitation arrangements. When the parents can agree to shared physical custody or the court renders that shared physical custody is in the best interest of the child, the Massachusetts child support guidelines are not applicable. Massachusetts child support guidelines are not meant to apply to cases where there is shared custody.
Visitation: Massachusetts child support guidelines understand that children must be permitted to enjoy the companionship of both parents.
Because of this, the court is allowed to adjust the amount of child support beyond the 2 percent range after taking into consideration the parent’s relative resources and actual sharing time with the child. The parent’s living standards and expenses will be evaluated by the court system.
Age of Children: To reflect the costs of raising a child, Massachusetts child support guidelines break age into three different groups: 0-12, 13-18, and over 18.
Single adjustments to basic orders should be rendered based on the age of the oldest child for whom support is to be ordered. Child support orders where the oldest child is 12 or younger should be—according to Massachusetts child support guidelines—under the schedule
Massachusetts child support Guidelines: Example of a Basic Order
Gross Weekly Income:
$0-$100: Regardless of the number of children, it is up to the discretion of the court, but cannot be less than $80 per month
$101-$280: For 1 child, the non-custodial parent is required to pay 21% of their income; 24% for 2 children, and 27% for 3 children
$281-$750: For 1 child, the non-custodial parent is required to pay $59 plus an additional 23%; $67 and 28% for 2 children; and $76 and 31% for 3 children.
$751 to Max: For 1 child, the non-custodial parent—according to Massachusetts child support guidelines—is required to pay $167 and 25% of their monthly income; $199 plus an additional 30% for 2 children; and $222 plus 33% of his/her monthly income.
Obligations for child support will vary depending on the nature of the arrangement between the parents. Custodial parents are required to pay the initial $100 of uninsured medical expenses for the child before seeking more money for this purpose from the non-custodial parent.
The Massachusetts child support guidelines take into consideration the income of both parents – including benefits, time spent parenting the children, the costs of childcare, health insurance costs, and the number of children in the agreement.
In cases where both parents split parenting time equally, the amount of child support is calculated twice alternating the roles of the parent as the custodial parent with the lower support obligation paying the difference between his or her obligation and the obligation of the other spouse.