Bristol County Child Support Lawyer
Representing Parents in Plymouth, New Bedford, Boston, Quincy, Hingham, Norfolk Counties
The Law Offices of Rachel M. Matos represent parents throughout Bristol County, MA in child support cases. Whether you are a parent requesting child support or expect to be the parent paying support, our firm can advocate for your case. Child support calculations largely depend on both parents’ incomes, so high earners can expect to pay a fair amount of support. Attorney Rachel M. Matos can take a look at your unique situation and help you estimate the amount of child support you may be eligible to receive or to pay. Attorney Matos can also help you build a strong case for challenging the amount reached by the court, asking for an increase or a decrease.
Contact the Law Offices of Rachel M. Matos for an initial consultation to discuss your child support case in detail.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Massachusetts?
Both parents in Massachusetts have a duty to support their child financially. The law presumes that the custodial parent who lives with the child provides for them in the day-to-day expenses and care for their child, so the noncustodial parent is the one who makes conventional child support payments.
The amount of child support the noncustodial parent must pay depends on:
- the child’s best interests;
- both parents’ incomes;
- their amount of parenting time.
Child support is meant to provide for the child’s daily needs, including health insurance and education. The court may also require high-earning parents to split the costs of private school and extracurricular activities if doing so is in the child’s best interests.
Child Support for High-Income Parents
Child support is a particularly important issue in high net worth divorces because it requires the calculation of both parties’ incomes. If the other spouse is a high-income earner, the court may consider whether they can support their partner to maintain the same lifestyle as they were accustomed to during the marriage. Similarly, if the children went to private school, the court may order the high-income parent to continue providing reasonable support for private tuition.
Massachusetts’ Child Support Guidelines
Like many states, Massachusetts implements child support guidelines for estimating support payments based on both parents’ gross incomes. In the context of child support, gross income is money that can come from any source, including:
- wages and salaries;
- military pay;
- disability benefits;
- Social Security benefits.
From the combined income of the parents, say, $150,000, the child support amount will be calculated by splitting the combined income proportionally. For example, if one parent earns $90,000 and the other $60,000, the first parent will have 60% of the responsibility, and the latter 40%. Be aware that the court may “impute” or assign an income value to a parent who is found to be intentionally unemployed or underemployed for the purposes of avoiding their child support obligation.
Note that the calculation guidelines vary based on the child custody and parenting time arrangement. The above calculation is based on the most common situation of a child having primary residence with one parent and spending time with the noncustodial parent around a third of the time. However, if the noncustodial parent spends less than a third of the time with the child, the court may increase the amount of child support they must provide. An experienced attorney can better help you estimate your child support amount based on your custody arrangement.
Filing for Child Support
In order to obtain an order of child support, you can either file a case, such as divorce, paternity, custody, or separate support, and then file a motion for child support within that case. Alternatively, you could open a case with the Department of Revenue and ask them to pursue child support for you.
Child support payments last until a child turns 18 years old. If they have reached the age of 18 but have not turned 21 and are still a dependent of the parent, the court may order child support until that child reaches the age of 21. The court may also order child support while the child is obtaining an undergraduate education up to age 23.
Child support will usually be collected by wage garnishment or withholding order. These orders are served on the paying parent’s employer, who will take child support from the employee’s paycheck each pay period to redirect to the custodial parent for child support.
Modifying an Order
Parents have the right to request a modification of an existing order in certain circumstances. If it has been 3 years since the order was last issued, you may change it if any of the following apply:
- there is an inconsistency between the amount the parents currently pay and what would result from the guidelines;
- the health insurance previously ordered is no longer available, or only at an unreasonable cost; or
- any other material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred (e.g., the loss of a job, the birth of a new child) impacting the parent's ability to pay support.
If less than 3 years have gone by, then the requesting parent must primarily show a substantial change in circumstances.