Child Support Lawyer Fall River`
Massachusetts law requires non-custodial parents to contribute financially to support their children after a divorce. Child support is generally paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent with primary physical custody on a monthly basis. It’s intended to be used to contribute to the cost of food, clothing and shelter, but the custodial parent is not required to account for exactly how it’s utilized. In addition to basic support, the non-custodial parent is also expected to contribute to add-on expenses such as health insurance, out of pocket medical costs and some types of educational expenses. If you’re concerned about how much child support you might receive or need to pay, it’s important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts child support attorney who can apply the law to your specific situation.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
In order to streamline the process of calculating child support, Massachusetts uses guidelines for judges to apply. These are the factors the court considers when ordering child support:
- Income is very broadly defined and includes all monies that flow to a parent including wages, tips, overtime, trust income, social security and prizes.
- Number of Children – Money is needed for each child.
- Childrens’ Ages – Older children are more expensive.
- Prior Support Orders
- Attribution of Income – If a non-custodial parent is not making a reasonable effort to earn income, child support can be based on what the judge believes that parent should be earning.
How Are Payments Made?
Parents have the option of working out between themselves how the payments will be delivered, but the receiving parent has options for collection to call upon if the informal arrangements are not satisfactory. When a non-custodial parent is skipping payments, the custodial parent can request through the Department of Revenue (DOR) that payments are deducted by the paying parent’s employer to ensure that the custodial parent receives the funds on a regular basis. This process is called income assignment and can be requested to assist with collection and enforcement of child support.
Modifying Child Support
If there is a substantial change in circumstances, either parent can petition the court for a modification of the child support agreement or order. For example, if the custodial parent discovers that the non-custodial parent has received a substantial raise, has a much higher paying job or has received a large bonus it may be grounds for an upward modification of support. On the other hand, if the non-custodial parent loses their job or is moved from full-time to part-time, it could be grounds for a reduction in child support. It’s important to understand that voluntary actions will not be considered by the court as a basis for modifying support. For example, if you quit your job, you’ll still owe support at the same level and can be subject to a contempt hearing for failing to pay. Paying parents should keep in mind that angry custodial parents might turn you in for committing fraud if they find out that you’re still working at your job, but you’re getting off the books now.
When Does Child Support End?
In Massachusetts, child support ends when the child is emancipated. This is defined as being “no longer dependent on a parent financially.” This usually means that the young adult has moved away from home and has a full-time job. Child support can be ordered to continue up to the age of 23 is the young adult is dependent on the parent financially and enrolled full-time in undergraduate studies at an accredited college or university. If a young adult is over the age of 18, but not financially independent, child support can be ordered to continue for a period of time with a 25% reduction in the amount that’s being paid. The best way to find out what you are owed or need to pay in child support is to speak to an experienced Massachusetts child support attorney.