Mass. Child Support: Who Pays? How Much? How Long?
Children have a fundamental right to be financially supported by both parents. In Massachusetts, there is a rebuttable presumption that the established Child Support Guidelines apply in all cases establishing or modifying any child support order. Calculate Massachusetts child support guidelines here.
How long is child support paid?
As a general rule, a child is emancipated (considered an adult) when he or she reaches the age of 18 or graduates high school (whichever is later). However, emancipation may not be deemed to occur until that child reaches age 21 if he or she is principally dependent on the custodial parent. Even still, emancipation may not occur until the age of 23 if the child is enrolled in an accredited educational institution. But with the latest revisions of the Guidelines, child support may end much earlier – given certain conditions related to college and educational costs.
Can child support deviate from the Guidelines?
There are times when it may be appropriate to deviate from the Guidelines, thus overcoming the presumptive application of the Guidelines by proving – or defending against – issues relating to a child having special needs or aptitudes, extraordinary medical expenses, extraordinary travel or child-related expenses, etc. On the day you go to court, bring specific evidence of all your children's expenses by using our downloadable worksheet. Learn more in our FAQ section.
Do child support orders ever change in Massachusetts?
In 2009, the Guidelines were updated. At that time it was established that a child support order may be modified if any of the following circumstances exist:
- The existing order is at least three years old; or
- Health insurance previously available at reasonable cost is no longer available; or
- Health insurance not previously available has become available; or
- Any other material change in circumstances has occurred.
We represent obligors and recipients in support modification cases
Flat-Fee Divorce Attorneys is qualified to represent either parent in modification hearings to increase or decrease the amount of child support because of a substantial change in circumstances – increased health care costs, new job, lost job, child reaching emancipation, etc.
We also petition the court to enforce support orders through contempt proceedings, garnishment or liens if the opposing party isn't paying. To help us prevail with your case, you should always keep a ledger of child support payments.
Fathers' rights in child support cases
The Guidelines in Massachusetts are written in a way that is gender-neutral, favoring neither fathers nor mothers. In practice, however, fathers may need to go the extra mile to be noticed, and to avoid stereotypical roles as obligors in order to establish equal footing. Both parties in a divorce action are usually best served by taking a collaborative approach, but in those situations when best efforts fail, we can take an aggressive stance in advocating on behalf of our clients.
Child support cases resolved for less
If you would like your Massachusetts child support case resolved without having to pay expensive hourly attorney fees, you are not alone. Since we started our flat fee divorce program in 2005, hundreds of people have turned to us for affordable and effective representation. Call 800-461-6900 and schedule an appointment to learn about how we can help you with our variety of services and fees related to child support matters. You can also contact us online.