Today is the day that the new Child Support Guidelines take effect in Massachusetts. These new guidelines include some changes that are important to know about if you have a legal issue related to the amount child support that you pay, or the amount that you receive as a parent.
The Child Support Guidelines help judges to figure out how much support should ordered, on a temporary or permanent basis. The new guidelines seek to improve this calculation method, by taking into consideration the economic realities families are dealing with. One factor that goes into the calculation is income. Under the new guidelines, income that a party receives from means tested benefits (SSI, TAFDC, SNAP, etc.) is not included in the calculation.
Sometimes, the court “attributes” income to one party who may be intentionally unemployed or only employed part-time. This is income not actually earned, but which the parent could earn. Under the new guidelines, availability of employment must be considered when deciding the issue of attributed income. Parties alleging attributed income must show that the there are available jobs out there, at that income level, which the parent is choosing not to take. The guidelines also note that the court has discretion to consider all, part, or none of the income that a parent obtains by working a second job or overtime.
The new guidelines especially affect parents whose combined income exceeds $250,000. They also affect those who have less than equal (50/50) parenting time, but more than two thirds/one third. This way, parents who have their kids for a significant amount of time and share in many of the expenditures don’t have to pay such a high amount in support.
Overall, it seems that many calculations under the new guidelines will result in slightly lower support payments. This is not always going to be the case, but the general attitude over the past few years has centered around the notion that the guidelines were producing payment amounts that were more than many parents’ could afford.
You can find additional information on the Massachusetts Court System’s website: https://www.mass.gov/courts/childsupport/
DISCLAIMER: This site and all information on it is intended for informational purposes only, and is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. You should seek competent legal representation on any legal matter.